Banbury, Oxfordshire, UK – Friday 12 December, 2014

55th Anniversary Of Sir Jack Brabham’s First Historic F1 Title

On this day, 12 December 1959, Sir Jack Brabham took the first Formula 1 World Championship for a rear-engined car in spectacular fashion, pushing his Cooper-Climax T51 across the finishing line after it ran out of fuel on the final lap of the US Grand Prix.

Black Jack’s epic effort 55 years ago today sparked F1’s rear-engine revolution, favouring handling over power, while crowning him Australia’s first F1 Champion.

Sir Jack’s youngest son, sportscar ace David explained; “It was this moment 55 years ago, when my father pushed his Cooper across the line to win his first Formula 1 World Championship in 1959, that made him a household name around the world. It was the start of what was an incredible journey over the next 11 years, where he won two further titles, created the Brabham Racing team with his friend Ron Tauranac and together they built over 500 racing cars.”

Jack went into the final round of the 1959 season heading Stirling Moss by 5.5 points in the title fight, thanks to victory at Monaco and Aintree, a second place at Zandvoort and two third place podiums at Reims and Monza.

Although Moss, also with two victories to his credit, took pole and set a comfortable lead at the Sebring airfield circuit in Florida, a failed gearbox brought his title hopes to an end. Brabham was leading the final 42nd lap when his Cooper-Climax spluttered to a halt 300-400 yards from the finish line.

A resolute Jack jumped out and pushed the car all the way to the chequered flag to secure his first of three titles, the second of which followed in 1960. The third would make him the only man in history to take the crown in a car of his own manufacture.

Top image © Sebring Raceway Archive
Bottom image © LAT Photographic