Time Capsule Tuesday: Geoff Brabham

June 28, 2016

Team Penske will be celebrating our 50th anniversary in motorsports in 2016. To bring you some of the terrific stories of our five-decade run of excellence, Team Penske is running weekly online features highlighting some of our drivers and our key events. We hope you enjoy this memorable time in our history.

Geoff Brabham

Many racers attempt various disciplines throughout their careers with varied success rates. Geoff Brabham, though, brought success to practically every step of his versatile career that spanned three decades and three continents.

The Australian driver was born into the sport as the son of Sir Jack Brabham, a three-time Formula One world champion in the 1960s, as were younger brothers – Gary and David – who raced, as well.

After launching his racing career in Australian Formula Ford in 1974, Geoff Brabham scored his first championship a year later in Australian Formula 2. From there, he made his way to Europe for a brief stint in the British Formula One Series in 1978.

Brabham matured as a racer once he came to the United States and won the SCCA Super Vee Gold Cup title in 1979 – a championship won by Al Unser Jr., Michael Andretti and Arie Luyendyk in later seasons. In 1981, he started to sprinkle IndyCar (CART Series) competition into his sports car and touring car schedules.

His CART career was successful with top-10 points finishes in 1982, 1984 and 1987. Brabham made 10 career starts in the Indianapolis 500, highlighted by a fourth-place finish in 1983 and a fifth-place effort in 1981 as a rookie. All told in his CART career that covered 12 years, he made 87 starts with nine podium finishes and a start on the pole in 1981 at California’s Riverside International Raceway; a race eventually won by Team Penske legend Rick Mears.

Brabham’s Team Penske career consisted of just one start in June 1989 while filling in for an injured Danny Sullivan at Portland (Oregon) International Raceway. He started from the fourth position, but was forced to settle for a 14th-place finish after having to retire the car with 89 of 104 laps complete due to a radiator problem. Sullivan was injured during Indianapolis 500 practice and missed two races as a result.

The crown jewel of Brabham’s sports car career was a 1993 victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans alongside French drivers Éric Hélary and Christophe Bouchut. Brabham became just the third Aussie to win Le Mans, following in the footsteps of Bernard Rubin (1928) and Vern Schuppan (1983). Other sports car championships to his credit include a 1981 Can-Am title and four consecutive (1988-91) crowns in IMSA GTP competition.

Other notable victories in Brabham’s career include a pair of 12 Hours of Sebring wins in 1989 and 1991 while teaming with his brother, Gary, and two IROC triumphs at Michigan International Speedway in 1991 and 1992.

Before wrapping up his driving career in his native country with the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship in the early 2000s, Brabham made a 1994 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at the inaugural Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Brabham was inducted in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2004.