That time at Sandown…

Here’s a little something that pops up every so often – the racy demonstration of Sir Jack Brabham in his Brabham-Repco and Juan Manuel Fangio in his 1955 Mercedes-Benz W196. Both cars had been recently restored by their owners in Australia, and as a support to the 1978 Australian Grand Prix at Sundown they were to be reunited with their original drivers.

All the hype and Fangio’s own insistence was that this was not a demonstration by two champions but a race. Perhaps it was, but it’s worth remembering that, in their heydays, there was a full minute’s difference between the two cars over a lap of Spa-Francorchamps and 13 seconds at Monaco.

Nevertheless, while Black Jack is the perfect gentleman and makes a show of it, it’s clear that Fangio is properly ‘on it’ for a recently-restored car that was worth a major sum of money even 40 years ago. And both men clearly wanted to be first past the chequered flag.

Incidentally, the Australian Grand Prix was a Formula 5000 race, won by Graham McRae in his self-built Chevrolet-engined car in a highly attritional race that saw two drivers hospitalised.

It’s thanks to this sort of enthusiasm for old cars, so clearly on show at Sandown that day, that the Silverstone Classic, the Goodwood Revival and the Nürburgring Old-timer exist as some of the best-attended motor sport events in the world. This is why…

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One thought on “That time at Sandown…

  1. Thank you for sharing the footage and your editorial. It was quite telling to see all the Touring Car drivers and the crews come to the fence to watch the masters. The Brabham was always a favourite car of mine. My father when I was three or four years old back in te sixties bought me a friction drive model of it. The Green and Gold Australian racing colours were so striking to me then and are still now. I have some old VHS Tapes of the late 1960’s Tasman series in Tasmania at Longford and I think I’m going to have to watch them today. Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Brabham et al.
    Cheers gentlemen.

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