The famed Brabham name is set to return next season as David Brabham, son of 3-time Formula 1 world champion Jack Brabham, elevates the family-run brand to the World Endurance Championship under the "Project Brabham" banner.
An ongoing legal battle with a German outfit claiming to own the rights to the Brabham name was recently resolved in favor of the family, allowing the Brabhams to build on four decades of competition recorded between 1962 and 1992. The next chapter, planned for 2015, will begin in sports cars, and specifically, in the LMP2 category with a new operation based in England.
For David Brabham, whose resume includes an LMP1 championship in the American Le Mans Series and three victories at the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans, the move from driver-for-hire to taking his destiny into his own hands with Project Brabham is a long-held goal that has come to fruition.
"There was the seven-year battle we went through to get our name back; I couldn't do anything with the name until that matter was sorted," Brabham (LEFT) told RACER. "It was around nine or 10 years ago, honestly, where I thought we just weren't doing anything with the Brabham brand, and we'd been very successful with the Formula 1 team, so once we got everything cleared in December of 2012, the next step was to do some brand research and we hit upon the keywords of pioneering, inspirational, and engineering. The next thought was to put together a team of our own."
With the desire to continue in the sport and re-establish Brabham as an entrant, forgoing the traditional route of finding paying drivers and corporate backers was an early concept embraced by the 49-year-old Aussie. Creating a collective-based program that brings the next generation into the Project Brabham endeavor was also a defining choice to stand upon.
"I've been a driver for 31 years and I've lost count of how many teams I've driven for," he continued. "The current model of driving for somebody else or setting up a team in the same way everyone else does it just didn't pull me in, and I just felt this responsibility to bring the team back in a more interesting and open way.
"We want to inspire the next generation of fans, drivers and engineers, and we came up with the idea of engaging all of them through our team, to ask them to be a part of the effort through our website, was a great place to start. This model, for Brabham, has a much greater model for people being involved than any other model out there."
Through the upcoming Brabham-Fan, Brabham-Driver, and Brabham-Engineer web portals, the family plans to engage those with an interest in using the project for some element of higher learning. In addition to potential commercial relationships that manifest, the URL will also serve as the official crowd-funding resource for those who wish to support the team directly.
"This is about a journey, about making history, about inviting the motorsports community and doing this together," Brabham explained. "What's down the road is a mystery, to some degree. We have goals, obviously: Going into LMP2, doing that for three years, then look at building the first LMP1 car as a constructor. Trying to engage designers and engineers throughout the world to design that car starting with those who come in through our portals, make it like an e-learning experience, and these are the models to make it a sustainable effort.
"Doing this through a digital platform, creating an environment where young minds can learn and grow in this field and earn certificates from their efforts and maybe going into the marketplace to work with other teams is where we really see this project taking on a life of its own. It's a lot different than us simply buying a car, hiring a team, and closing out the world to everything but our press releases singing our own praises. This is designed to be the opposite."