Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Aussies Contribution to Motorsports: Temper and Victory

If you had to find someone to handle a rough job, something dirty, messy and abrupt, would you hire anyone nicknamed "Peter Perfect." You might consider a man with the nickname "AJ." It's vanilla-flavoured, but might work. You'd happily settle on "Black Jack." Perfect name for a tough driver from Australia.

Peter Brock
Peter Brock goes by the nickname "Peter Perfect" or "King of the Mountain." Brock raced in 210 events, won 42 of them, took a spot on the podium in more than 50 and the pole position in 57. He was the oldest driver to hold an ATCC pole position at 57.

When Brock was boy, he showed extraordinary talent and a wanton disregard for his own safety when he bought an Austin 7 for the equivalent of $10 AUS and raced it. The car had no brakes. He slowed down by throwing the car side to side to scrub off speed.

Brock's personal life was unsettled, at best. He married twice and formed a life partnership once. His last love, Bev McIntosh was the wife of one of his team mates when they met. They never married, but Bev changed her last name to "Brock" by deed pol. They broke up because, as Bev put it, "One too many secretaries."

Unfortunately, Peter Brock died in 2006 when, three kilometres from the finish line in the Targa West Rally, he slid off the road and hit a tree. He was 61.

Jack Brabham
When Jack Brabham raced in Formula One, the cars didn't have ground effect panels or fancy wings. They were simply long, round tubes with wheels attached. The driver won the race, not the designer. Brabham participated in 126 races, won 14, finished in the top three 31 times, took the pole position 13 time and posted 12 fasted laps. In 1957, racing in the Monaco Grand Prix, the fuel pump failed on his mid-engined Cooper while he was in third position. He jumped out of the car and pushed it to the finish line, taking sixth place. He did it again in the United States Grand Prix at Sebring, Florida when his Cooper ran out of gas within sight of the finish line. He jumped from the car and pushed it over for fourth place.

When Brabham retired from racing, his wife insisted on moving to a farm between Sydney and Melbourne because she wanted their sons to grow up away from racing. It didn't work. Geoff won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1993. Gary won the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1991 with Geoff as his co-driver. David won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2009. The failure to keep any of the younger Brabhams away from racing extended to Jack's grandson, Matthew, who won the U.S. F2000 National Championship in his third season with Formula 2000.

Alan Jones
Alan Jones ("AJ") took a straight line approach to winning. He pointed himself at it and knocked anyone who got in his way into Tuesday of next week.

He may have been justified. He had to fight for everything he wanted. He went to London in 1971, with £50 in his wallet and a girlfriend named "Bev" and made a living repairing and renting cars He entered low-level races with unsatisfying results. His father, Stan Jones, came to London to help. Alan found a sponsor and entered a race at Silverstone. He won but his father died of a heart attack just before the race.

Jones was a brawler in and out of racing. His team owner called him a "hard, competitive animal." He once placed second in a race, handicapped by a broken hand, damaged in a fight with four, burly fellows off track. Alain Prost called him a "most fiery, powerful, even violent - driver." He retired and bought a farm in Australia. He got bored, broke his thigh falling off a horse and took a job with a racing team that finished out of the money and became a TV Commentator.

Australian drivers aren't stolid, placid fellows. You can read about them at Carzoos (, an excellent resource on the world of cars and drivers.

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