It was sad to read the headlines – the second son of 3 time F1 World Champion Sir Jack Brabham, Gary, has been charged and convicted of child abuse and rape of a very young girl. Gary was born in London in 1961 whilst his father was competing in F1 – Sir Jack had already won titles in 1959 and 1960.
Gary had every opportunity to be a hugely successful racer like his older brother Geoff and his younger brother David. In fact he was a champion racer, taking out the 1989 British Formula 3000 title, the same year that David won the British Formula 3 title and Geoff won the US based IMSA GTP title. Quite a feat for one family! However, unlike his brothers, he seemed to suffer from an inability to raise sponsorship whilst racing, despite having good results. He made it to F1 with a back of the grid team and this didn’t work out, he raced sports cars and took out a Sebring 12 Hour race with Geoff, but the opportunities and cash weren’t there for him. Even with a famous surname, you still have to prove your worth – or bring bags of sponsorship along.
After the racing dried up, he set up a company in Australia to help reduce the road toll, an honourable task, and to teach advanced driving techniques.
The offences that he was charged with occurred between 2003 and 2007 and only came to light when the girl told her mother in 2013 of the abuse. Brabham who is now 54, was convicted of one count of rape and one count of child abuse – he was acquitted of 5 other charges. Sentencing will be on April 15th.
Apparently, he is a “serial” offender and media reports suggested that the family knew of his problems but kept them contained as much as they could. In 2009 he was convicted of another offence involving an under age girl (a 12 year old) and was sentenced to jail time. The family managed to suppress the fact that he was jailed. It now appears that both occurrences were with the same family – two sisters were groomed and found themselves in his company alone, one was in his car when the abuse happened.
The current trial started in May of last year and he pleaded not guilty, clearly thinking that he had done nothing wrong, despite the case being very similar to the one that resulted in previous jail time! However, his deviance was uncovered again and he will pay the price for his behaviour.
The Brabhams can be put in the same group as the Andretti, Fittipaldi, Hill, Petty & Earnhardt families – giving the world at least three generations of successful racers. I feel sorry for the family, this will be a topic that the media will inevitably go after the younger Brabhams for comment. Geoff was at the trial and was quoted as saying “only because he is my brother” and in some ways I am glad that Sir Jack was not here to see his son jailed again and I feel for Gary’s own two sons who must have mixed feelings about their father.