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Brabham name mooted for road supercars

History repeats: The legendary Brabham name made famous on the formula one circuits from the 1960s to the 1980s has been linked with a fresh bid to create a McLaren-style F1 racing and road supercar business. Picture: Gerald Swan.

UK report links Brabham with new bid for supercar operation to rival McLaren

General News logo4 May 2017

THE racing son of triple formula one world champion Sir Jack Brabham, David Brabham, is behind renewed efforts to resurrect the Brabham name, not just on the track but also as a supercar manufacturer to rival the likes of McLaren.

David Brabham owns the Brabham name trademark, not only in the United Kingdom and Europe but also Australia where it covers road cars as well as racing cars and a wide range of associated goods, technologies and services under seven categories.

Under the title Project Brabham, an original plan unveiled in 2014 was based on a crowd-sourcing funding model to found a team to race under the Brabham banner in the 2015 World Endurance Championship using LMP2 sportscars.

That project evaporated, but Project Brabham appears to have resurfaced, this time as an ambitious proposal to take control of a formula one team and then develop a spin-off supercar business in the McLaren model.

But rather than run the operation himself, David Brabham – himself a former formula one driver with Brabham and Le Mans 24-Hour winner – apparently has indicated he is considering licensing the trademark to a third party to take the project forward.

Writing in Autocar, British motor racing journalist Joe Saward suggests the new Brabham outfit might make a bid for the Force India formula one team whose Indian owners are in serious legal trouble.

He says such a team – apparently backed by United States investors – could then provide the springboard for a McLaren-style supercar manufacturing business, leveraging the Brabham name.

He quotes Brabham as saying: “Brabham is a brand with more than 69 years of racing and it is our intention to see the name back on track.

“Since Project Brabham was launched, we have received a lot of enquiries from different parties who have expressed an interest in licensing the name, and we are evaluating a number of options. We have no further comment.”

David Brabham took control of the Brabham trademark in February 2015, about nine months after his famous father died at the age of 88 in 2014.

Sydney-born Sir Jack is best known as the first formula one driver to win a world championship in a car of his own design, in 1966.

After winning back-to-back formula one world titles driving Cooper cars in 1959 and 1960, Sir Jack founded the Brabham team with fellow Australia Ron Tauranac in 1960, originally as Motor Racing Developments.

The team went on to become one of the most successful racing outfits in the 1960s and 70s, not only delivering an F1 crown to Sir Jack but also his team-mate Denny Hulme and, later, Nelson Piquet.

The Brabham team was sold in 1971 to Ron Tauranac, and then in 1972 to Bernie Ecclestone who owned it until 1988 when he took control of F1.

More recently, the Brabham family, including David, have fought a legal battle with a German organisation which tried to enter the 2010 F1 season under the Brabham name.

The Brabhams won the case and David Brabham has subsequently formerly registered the trademark globally.

Ironically, if Brabham is successful in its supercar manufacturing bid, it will go up against McLaren’s current operation founded by former Brabham mechanic Ron Dennis.

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