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Jack Brabham, Monaco 1963

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#1 Marcel Schot

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Posted 28 September 2000 - 08:50

As I was toying around with the Lotus 25 and the Grand Prix history of the seven chassis, Jack Brabham's use of the car at the 1963 Monaco Grand Prix was somewhat of an eye-catcher.

To my knowledge, the use of chassis R3 by Brabham Racing Organization is the only time Team Lotus temporarily allowed another team to race the Lotus 25.

R1,R2,R5 and R6 were only used by Team Lotus, while R3 and R7 were sold to Reg Parnell at the end of 1963, followed by R4 halfway through 1964.

As I currently have no books on Lotus and/or Brabham and this question is torturing my mind for a few days now, I'd like to know if any of you can shed some light on this case. Did Brabham get to use this car as a replacement for a wrecked car of his own?


#2 f li

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Posted 28 September 2000 - 13:30


From Capps Rear View Mirror:

"At Monaco, Jack Brabham drove a Team Lotus type 25 when the Climax FWMV in his own Brabham BT3 developed a death rattle. Then as the mechanics were preparing to drop the spare into the Brabham chassis, the Climax in the Dan Gurney chassis made some gruesome noises and ceased to function. After a round of oaths - highlighted by the excessive use of The Great Australian Adjective (as reported by a certain Henry N. Manney, III), they knuckled down to the business at hand. An attempt to get another one of the Climax vee-eights to Monaco ended in frustration when severe weather (snowstorms!) in Northern France prevented the Brabham Cessna from flying out of Nice to collect another engine and return in time for the race. So, a deal was worked out and Brabham started at the rear of the grid in a car he never even sat in until the last few minutes of practice. Ah, yes! I can just see Ron telling Frank that Ralf can have the spare chassis for the race...or Jean letting Mika use the spare since his last engine was now in Mechanical Heaven."

PS - See Mr. Capps, You have at least one reader!

#3 Roger Clark

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Posted 28 September 2000 - 15:19

My memory of the incident is slightly different from don's description. Jack's engine blew up during first practice. He was delayed by the snow, but he did manage to fly to Coventry and to collect a replacement. He returned after practice was complete and found that Gurney's engine had failed, so Dan got the replacement. Jack didn't practice in the Lotus, his time was set in the BT3 during first practice. The first time he sat in the car was on race day.

no doubt Esso, who sponsored both Brabham and lotus, helped persuade Chapman to make the spare available. It's worth mentioning that Phil Hill was unemployed that weekend, waiting for the ATS. He too could have made use of somebody's spare car.

The other point this illustrates is how close to the breadline even the top teams were by today's standards. Team Lotus went through the entire 1962 season with only three Climax engines.

#4 Marcel Schot

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Posted 28 September 2000 - 15:28

Here I am looking all through my bookcollection, while the answer is right under my nose. Sure reminds me of Edgar Allen Poe's "The purloined letter" :)

#5 Don Capps

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Posted 28 September 2000 - 16:53

As Roger points out, the real story is how narrow the margin was for teams at that time. In the edited version that made the column, some pieces were left out which did indicate that the FWMV switch did take place, but since Gurney now had a dead FWMV as well, the good one went into his machine. Plus, Esso did broker the deal to ensure that Black Jack made the grid.

The "spare engine" was the spare engine for almost every works team. Even if there was another engine for the team, it was usually in Coventry being rebuilt or held as a float or -- as some warily observed -- being used as collateral. Nothing different for the BRM P56 customers, except it was Bourne and not Coventry. Engine loans were not all that usual among teams, but not without trepidation at times.

A truly blown engine was a real disaster, especially for the privateers. While the team mechanics still did much of the work on the engines, the major work was done by Climax & BRM back at the shop. Holing a block was a war-stopper and could easily lead to missing races and the resulting starting monies. Plus canceling an entry was not the way to win & impress the organizers and boost your bargaining power.

It is interesting to realize that the World Champion team for 1963 made it through the season -- both entries -- on a mere three engines. Sometimes a team today uses that many engines in a single weekend...

#6 Paul Hartshorne

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Posted 28 September 2000 - 19:25

This quote is from 16 On The Grid by Peter Garnier:

"Jack Brabham's Brabham-Climax - possibly through too weak a mixture setting on the fuel injection system - had dropped a valve into a cylinder, the valve head passing out through the exhaust, but not before doing considerable damage. So far, Brabham had had an extremely unfortunate and expensive season in respect of engine failures, having damaged one extensively at the Easter Monday Goodwood meeting, one at the Aintree 200 meeting, one in the B.R.D.C. International Trophy at Silverstone, and now one (shortly to be two) at Monte Carlo."

As Roger Clark states, Black Jack flew a new engine in from Coventry, only to find that Dan Gurney had also dropped a valve in his motor. Jack eventually drove the spare works Lotus, which had a Climax engine equipped with carburettors, as opposed to the fuel injection fitted to the two Lotus race cars. JB hadn't driven this car before race day, but Jim Clark tried it on Saturday, setting a time only 0.9 sec slower than his pole position time.

As well as the spare engine question, it's interesting to note (when compared with modern Grand Prix racing) that Lotus and BRM were the only two teams to have spare cars at Monaco.

#7 Ray Bell

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Posted 30 September 2000 - 15:27

Twenty years ago (or thereabouts) I read of Ferrari having some sixteen engines at a German GP... I think it was a Jenks article. Things got really serious by the late sixties, but then we see that Matra were fresh out of engines by the French GP of 72, when Amon led the race for so long with a spare Sports Car engine...
The production line at CC must have been fairly busy between the first appearances for the FWMV in Germany in 1961 and the start of the 62 season, but there were still some 4-cyl engines around early in that season. Bourne's production capacity must also have been fairly good. But I guess that once racing got under way the production line was devoted more to replacing broken bits than making up new units.