Australian F1 legends immortalised at Albert Park

Australian World Champions Alan Jones and Sir Jack Brabham
Australian World Champions Alan Jones and Sir Jack Brabham

Australia’s two Formula 1 World Champions, Sir Jack Brabham and Alan Jones, were honoured in a special ceremony before Sunday’s 2013 Rolex Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix.

Bronze busts of Sir Jack, World Champion in 1959, 1960 and 1966, and Alan, Australia’s second World Champion in 1980, were unveiled by the Premier of Victoria, Dr. Denis Napthine, at the circuit which staged its first Australian Grand Prix six decades ago.

Dr. Napthine said it was an honour and a privilege to be with Sir Jack, who was a boyhood hero of his, and Alan Jones, both men having strong links to that original race. Sir Jack took part in practice but was unable to race after mechanical failure; Alan’s father Stan started from the front row, led the race and set fastest lap before retiring shortly before the finish.

“We are recognising today two absolute icons of Australian motor racing and Australian motor racing,” said Dr. Napthine. “It is a fitting tribute that they are being presented today with these sculptures.”

The busts, the work of Melbourne artist Barbara McLean, were received with both pride and humility by the two World Champions.

“Fantastic!” beamed Sir Jack. “A great honour – it certainly looks the goods, and I am very proud to be here to see it.”

Another triple World Champion was among the onlookers. “Jack was a great driver,” said Sir Jackie Stewart, who won the title in 1969, 1971 and 1973. “He was so cool, calm and collected. But he was a difficult man to pass! Every time you saw a good piece of road open up, Jack would close it. He was probably the best defender of his position I can ever remember.

“But there’s nobody who has done what Jack Brabham’s done: not only win the World Championship but do it in a car of his own build.”

Alan Jones, like Sir Jack, enjoyed a reputation as one of the sport’s toughest competitors but he was close to tears on seeing the sculpture.

“Unbelievable,” he said. “Totally out of left field – it’s a huge honour. My father would be absolutely rapt. He was the guiding light for me: I grew up in that environment and since the time I was knee-high to a grasshopper I knew I was going to be a racing driver.

Looking at the sculpture he said: “I’m just sorry I don’t look like this now!”