WITH two Formula 1 titles to his name, Jack Brabham was at the height of his powers — the Sebastian Vettel of his era — when he raced on the Border in 1961.
But unlike his modern-day counterparts, the racer from Sydney did not have a mass of mechanics helping him when he took to the Hume Weir circuit in his Cooper Climax.
So casual were the times, Brabham used an Albury local’s Glenly Street home garage for storage.
“Jack stopped at my place a couple of times overnight and he used to put his racing car in my shed,” Allen Henshaw recalled yesterday.
Mr Henshaw, 88, was the treasurer of the club that ran the weir track that weaved its way around the base of the dam wall on the Victorian side of the Murray River.
In March 1961, he watched excitedly as Brabham and British F1 racer Ray Salvadori drew thousands to the circuit for two days of racing.
On the opening day, a Sunday, Brabham won the 20-lap international trophy race by just 0.9 of a second, pipping reigning Australian champion Bill Patterson and Bib Stillwell, a well-known Melbourne car dealer.
“The world champion had to pull out all stops to keep ahead of Patterson and Stillwell,” The Border Mail’s reporter “Cold Start” wrote.
“The last three laps saw the leaders in the esses together and the crowd was wild with excitement as it was still anybody’s race, but Jack Brabham showed championship form and held off the challenge to win.”
The next day Brabham streeted the field in the international cup race and set a lap record of 51.2 seconds, a time that equated to 147km/h.
At the meeting, Brabham met Albury Floral Festival candidates and paraded one around the track in an open-topped Mercedes sports car.
Mr Henshaw, who first met Brabham during the F1 ace’s midget car racing days, said the triple world champion was a “tremendous, down-to-earth bloke”.
“I hadn’t met him for some time and he walked up, put his hand out and said ‘how are you Allen?,” Mr Henshaw said.
“He was a very good fella to talk to but he was stone deaf in the finish because of racing noise.”