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Jack Brabham - Jaguar test driver?


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#1 Nev

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 07:40

Seems that Jaguar's William Heynes was looking to employ Jack Brabham as test driver in 1965. In my opinion, the "new sports car" referred to in the letter was the XJ13. However, it is known that Malcolm Sayer had previously tested some open-wheeled single-seater designs in a wind tunnel and it could refer to Jaguar's thoughts around F1?

Although Jaguar already had a test driver in the shape of Norman Dewis, it was felt that someone with top-level racing experience was needed for the XJ13 so this request makes sense. The date of the letter also coincides with the start of building the XJ13. When Mike Kimberley took over the project from Heynes he employed David Hobbs and Richard Attwood as main development/test drivers for the car. Both drivers had been Jaguar apprentices.

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#2 Doug Nye

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 20:11

In essence racing cars were banned from using the Motor Industry Research Association test facility - and wind tunnel - near Nuneaton. Sir William was a major player in the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders, representing 'proper' motor industry companies, and I am pretty sure he had pulled strings to have the wind tunnel made available to Ron Tauranac and MRD. Somewhere we have some photos of a BT11 - I think - tufted and instrumented and under test within the MIRA tunnel.

DCN

Edited by Doug Nye, 05 June 2012 - 20:14.


#3 Nev

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Posted 06 June 2012 - 06:44

In essence racing cars were banned from using the Motor Industry Research Association test facility - and wind tunnel - near Nuneaton. Sir William was a major player in the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders, representing 'proper' motor industry companies, and I am pretty sure he had pulled strings to have the wind tunnel made available to Ron Tauranac and MRD. Somewhere we have some photos of a BT11 - I think - tufted and instrumented and under test within the MIRA tunnel.
DCN


An interesting nugget of information - I was unaware racing cars were banned from the full-sized MIRA tunnel. I have, however, seen a photo of the Bryan Wingfield XJ13 replica in the MIRA tunnel - complete with chin spoiler.

I believe Malcolm Sayer ran a series of tests on a small-scale model of an open-wheeled single-seater model as early as 1956; a good few years ahead of the pioneering work by Lotus, Ferrari and Brabham. It is likely he used the small wind tunnel at Loughborough University to do this. The model was reported to incorporate electric motors driving the wheels so that the wheels could run at "road speed" to measure the true effect of drag caused by the open wheels. Sayer really does seem to have been at the "cutting edge" in the application of aerodynamics to racing cars.

#4 D-Type

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Posted 06 June 2012 - 09:26

If I remember correctly, all the MIRA facilities were only available to bona fide manufacturers who were members of MIRA. There was a fuss about Vanwall, BRM, and Cooper not being allowed to use the banked track, possibly also Lister. I'm not sure about Lotus and Connaught.
The restrictions were easedlater and the Bentley Drivers' Club were able to exercise their cars on the banking and try to set British and International Class Records. As a reader of WB's comments, I hesitate to say World Records

Edited by D-Type, 06 June 2012 - 09:26.


#5 Doug Nye

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Posted 06 June 2012 - 21:57

I remember MIRA turning away any proposal actually to run purebred racing cars on their track facilities, as opposed to any specific objection to using their full-scale wind tunnel. Indeed BRM tested a car in the tunnel presumably thanks to the owning Owen Organisation's membership of the SMMT/MIRA axis. The effective ban apparently stemmed from the fatal accident in which Cameron Earl lost his life after rolling a Bob Gerard ERA there. Earl was of course author of the famous Intelligence assessment of the pre-war German racing car programmes which he compiled from inspection of the material remains and interviews with surviving luminaries of the Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union teams in 1945.

DCN

#6 BRG

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 15:12

By chance, I passed along Goldsworth Road yesterday and stopped to look at number 133-139. There is a rather derelict vacant plot between number 129 (Majestic Wine) and 145 (an electrical contractor) with weeds and rubble piles. From memory, there was a Rover dealership there a few years ago which was presumably where BRO were based in 1965? Was it a dealership back then? I thought Jack Brabham Motors was in Epsom but that may have been a later development.

#7 Nev

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 09:40

By chance, I passed along Goldsworth Road yesterday and stopped to look at number 133-139. There is a rather derelict vacant plot between number 129 (Majestic Wine) and 145 (an electrical contractor) with weeds and rubble piles. From memory, there was a Rover dealership there a few years ago which was presumably where BRO were based in 1965? Was it a dealership back then? I thought Jack Brabham Motors was in Epsom but that may have been a later development.


Presumably this is the vacant plot you referred to (adjacent to Number 145)?

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It is perhaps unlikely this was where BRO were based as the letter says "131-139 Goldsworth Road". If you walk down the road (to the left in the above picture) there is a small industrial estate with some car-related businesses close to number 139. Could this have been where Brabham was based?

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Carry on a bit further down the road to number 133 we find some houses which look pre-1965 which makes me think the small industrial estate above is the best bet?

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#8 Geoff E

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 10:21

Old maps show the "vacant plot" was never used for residential use (select desired map on right) www.old-maps.co.uk/maps.html?coords=499871,158573

(The link does work but, for some reason, you have to copy and paste it.)

Edited by Geoff E, 08 June 2012 - 10:25.


#9 BRG

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 16:35

Presumably this is the vacant plot you referred to (adjacent to Number 145)?

It is perhaps unlikely this was where BRO were based as the letter says "131-139 Goldsworth Road". If you walk down the road (to the left in the above picture) there is a small industrial estate with some car-related businesses close to number 139. Could this have been where Brabham was based?

Not unless the numbering along the road has been revised, which is not that likely, I suspect.

The vacant plot is between Majestic Wine, who have a small sign saying they are number 127-129, so the vacant lot should be 131 onwards. The white buildings in the far left of your first shot are numbered from 147 upwards, so I presume that the slightly nearer building with the upstairs bay windows (W L Sirman & Sons) is 145 - which is borne out when I googled them. So the vacant lot encompasses numbers 131 to 143. So it must have been BRO at that time, if Sir Jack's letterhead is to be believed.

Does anyone have any period photos that might help?

#10 Geoff E

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 17:32

Google Earth 1999 view has about 7 small industrial units on the site, 3 at the roadside and 4 at the back.

Edited by Geoff E, 08 June 2012 - 17:33.