BRABHAM BT18 [F2-27-66] AM128

Jack "When the flag drops, the bullshit stops!" Brabham won the Drivers' World Championship and the Repco-Brabham the Constructors' Cup in 1966, the year the Brabham BT18 was unveiled. Ron Tauranac had done all the design work on the cars that year, with the help of Michael Hillman.

Lee Han Seng's BT18 competed in the Singapore Grand Prix from 1967 until 1971. The car is now in the hands of Max Lane of Australia

 

Formula Three rules for 1966 meant engines of 1 liter capacity, while Formula Two cars ran 1 liter engines (Cosworth SCA) for the last time. Between Jack, Danny Hulme and Jochen Rindt (single win at Brands Hatch), Brabhams won every single Formula Two race that year while Harry Stiller won the British Formula Three Championship, Tino Brambilla won the Italian Formula Three Championship, Charles Chrichton-Stuart won the Argentine Temporda Championship and Spencer Martin the Australian Gold Star.

NB: Harry Stiller as a jeweler from Bournemouth, who gave up racing after visiting a a clairvoyant who told him that unless he gave it up he would be killed!

 

A total of 46 BT18 were produced by the factory: 6 were for Formula Two with customer cars running Cosworth SCA engines and the works team running DOHC Honda engines; 8 were for special order for the Honda racing school with Ford Kent engines, making this a Formula Ford 18 months before the formula had been launched; 32 were Formula Three cars and classified as BT18A. 

 

The BT18 featured here carries chassis F2-27-66 AM128. The AM128 car, as far as I can determine from F2 and F3 records, is the Chris Meek car, backed by Gibert Baird (Techspeed?) in 1967. Meek raced against famous names such at Peter Gethin, Tony Lanfranchi, Derek Bell, Mo Nunn and Tim Schenken. Gil Baird ran a meat business in the Midlands (Midlands Meat Packers?) and backed people like Jordi Gene, Oz Negri, Sean Walker and Chris Meek. Chris drove for Gil in 1965/66 in a Baird entered Ginetta G4R - fairly successfully.

I am indebted to Bryan Miller of Caringbah, NSW, Australia for linking chassis AM128 with F2-27-66.

 

When I acquired the car, all I had were log books dating back to the mid-1980s, having raced in the Watkins Glen Vintage Grand Prix in 1991 and 1992, Stapleton, Steamboat and some other venues in Colorado. The Brabham Register run by John Hefkenschiel revealed Thomas Ragonetti as having owned it in the 80s and 90s. The car was apparently brought to the US (Hawaii?) by an American Army officer, ended up in the hands of Ron Hunter who raced it briefly in the US SCCA Formula C class (I don't have records of these yet), then stuck it into storage for whatever reason. It then passed through the hands of Duane Capps as a gift from his wife (we can only dream of such things) before going to Tom Ragonetti. Tom apparently restored in in 1988 or thereabouts.

Links:

1 -BT18 notes

2 -Photos from Denver

3 -Very early photos of the car

4 -Racing in New Zealand 2005

5 - The engines - Cosworth MAE & Lotus Twin Cam

 

Teretonga Raceway, Feb05

It's great fun to drive a hand grenade with neutral handling.  But trying to keep that screamer Cosworth MAE on boil is another thing altogether . As with the CSR, the Brabham was geared for shorter circuits and was therefore never able to hit max speed down the straight at Teretonga. The shot above shows the car at Castrol Corner, dicing it out with the Titan Mk6C Formula Ford of Bob Giles in a very wet race.

Photo by Fiona Michels -Canon EOS300D, f/6.3 300mm at 100ASA

Teretonga Raceway, Feb05

How to get a race car to the dummy grid in record time.... These MAE screamers only start to perform once they're revved up past 6,000-7,000rpm. Nothing happens anything below that! A whole different driving style needed to keep things on the boil lap after lap and pray it all doesn't go KABOOM behind your back!

Photo by Fiona Michels, Canon EOS300D, 1/125, f/5, 75mm at 100ASA

 


Denver, Oct04

Bob Alder's collection. Note the red No. 2 car to the right of the Brabham. That's Diane's Miller B Sports Racer. Diane races this regularly in Colorado and had the car up for the Southern Festival of Speed in 2004. I raced against it in the Lotus Elan Plus 2.  

Photo by Bob Alder - Minolta DiMAGE 7i, f/2.8, 1/20 at 200ASA

 

The 18 Years  

The year the Brabham BT18 was unveiled, Jack "When the flag drops, the bullshit stops!" Brabham won the Drivers' World Championship and the Constructors' Cup. That was 1966.  Working for Jack Brabham was fellow Australian, Ron Tauranac. Ron had done all the design work on the cars that year. In production at the Brabham works that year were the BT14 Formula Libre single-seater, the BT15 F3 (similar chassis to the BT14 and BT16) , the BT17 (Group 7 sports-racer on a stretched BT8A chassis), the BT18, BT18A, BT18B, BT19 (one-off F1 car), BT20 (F1), BT21 (F3 development of the BT18) and the BT22 (Formula Libre based on the BT11A with BT19 suspension). For what Enzo Ferrari termed a “Garagista” to describe the new breed of British constructor, Motor Racing Developments (MRD) and the Brabham Racing Organisation (BRO) were hard at work. Eighty-nine race cars of ten different models were churned out that year alone, a record output till eclipsed by 1969’s output of 100.

 

1966 would also be a watershed year. The rules were changing yet again and builders were just at the cusp of starting to apply science to what was very much the black art of aerodynamics and tyre technology. Coventry-Climax had decided not to continue its Formula 1 involvement, opening the door for the Cosworth FVA (followed by the F1 DFV in April 1967) and Repco (March 1965). This move by Walter Hassan at Climax had shocked everyone, including Colin Chapman at Lotus. This was also the start of the 3-litre Formula 1 era and the last year of 1-litre Formula 2 (1.6-litre and a maximum of 6-cylinders with homologation of at least 500 examples of the engine from 1967).

 

By the time the BT18 had come on the market, Jack Brabham and Ron Tauranac had been working together for about five years. Their partnership continued for over nine years till Jack retired in 1970 at the age of 44, having sold control of MRD to Ron earlier that year. Ron ran MRD for a year before selling out to Bernie Ecclestone and eventually returning to Formula racing with the formation Ralt Cars Ltd. with the very same formula that took MRD to the Formula 1 championships in 1966 and 1967.

 

Formula Three rules for 1966 meant engines of 1-liter capacity, while Formula Two cars ran 1-liter engines (Cosworth SCA) for the last time. Between Jack Brabham, Denny Hulme and Jochen Rindt (single win at Brands Hatch), Brabhams won every single Formula Two race that year while Harry Stiller, who quit because a clairvoyant told him that unless he gave up racing he would be killed, won the British Formula Three Championship; Tino Brambilla won the Italian Formula Three Championship; Charles Chrichton-Stuart, the Argentine Temporda Championship; Spencer Martin, the Australian Gold Star.  The Tauranac-built spaceframe on the F2 and F3 cars was so good, even Colin Chapman was compelled to revert back to using it in the Lotus Type 41 after having moved on to monocoque previously. The only way to beat a Brabham would have had to be with a Brabham.

 

A total of 46 BT18 were produced by the factory: 6 were for Formula Two with customer cars running Cosworth SCA engines (as opposed to the Cosworth MAE used in F3) and the works team running DOHC Honda S800 engines (there were two recorded works cars – F2-18-66 and F2-19-66); 8 were for special order for the Honda racing school with Ford Kent engines, making this a Formula Ford 18 months before the formula had been launched; the other 32 were destined for Formula Three and classified as BT18A.

 

 

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