Brabham BT2 car-by-car histories
Following the successes of the MRD prototype Formula Junior in 1961, Motor Racing Developments went into production in 1962 with a car to be known as the Brabham Junior, retrospectively called the BT2. Eleven were built and sold around the world.
The Brabham Junior, the simple name by which it was originally known, was launched in March 1962. It was derived from the MRD Formula Junior car built by the same company the previous year, and was a conventional Formula Junior car for its time. It had a space frame chassis with rear-mounted engine, independent suspension all round with top and bottom wishbones and outboard springs - or co-axial coil spring/damper units as they were known in 1962 - and Girling disc brakes all round. This was a relatively new design philosophy, as 1962 is only a few years after front engines, leaf springs and drum brakes, but it would prove to be one of the two dominant themes of the 1960s, the other being the monocoque chassis with rocker arm-actuated inboard springs developed by Lotus. The Brabham was low by the standard of the time, with height to the top of the windscreen just 2 ft 3¼ (68 cm), and it was right down to the formula's 400 kg (882 lb) weight limit. The engine was a 1100 cc Holbay modified Ford engine, and transmission was via a modified Volkswagen gearbox/final drive unit. This was the unit that Mike Hewland in Maidenhead was modifying for use in Formula Junior and then in F1, becoming the dominant supplier of transmission systems in motor sport throughout the 1960s and 1970s.
There has been some doubt over who fabricated the spaceframe chassis for the BT2. There is no doubt that Derek Buckler and Peter Hilton of Buckler Cars built the chassis for the MRD (BT1) at Crowthorne, Berkshire, but David Montgomery of The Buckler Car Register advises that Ron Tauranac told Brian Malin, the author of the definitive book about Bucklers, that the next 11 chassis were built by Frank Coltman's Progress Chassis Company in north London, as Progress were more geared up for series production than Bucklers. As Progress did a lot of work for Lotus, notably on Lotus's own Formula Junior Lotus 20 and 22 designs, there may have been a desire to keep Progress's involvement with MRD a secret.
The first BT2 was sold to Briggs Cunningham in the US and was followed by a pair of factory-assisted cars run for Frank Gardner and Gavin Youl, and then another pair for French drivers Jean Moench and Jo Schlesser. Schlesser proved immediately successful and his and Gardner's successes led to five more sales before the end of the year. The two factory cars were sold to Australia for 1963 and another UK-based car to the Far East so only one BT2 remained racing in the UK. The locations of most of the cars are known today but two US-based cars are still missing.
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Sold to Briggs Cunningham (Bridgeport, CT) and raced by his team of drivers in 1962, but most often by Briggs himself. Sold to team driver Augie Pabst (Milwaukee, WI) for 1963 and raced by him in the last seasons of Formula Junior and in the first season of the SCCA's new Formula C. Then to Tom Gelb (Hartford, WI) for 1966 who was enormously successful in Central Division FC over the next three seasons, winning the Divisional title in 1968 with a maximum 54 points. The car was then sold to Dennis Lokmer (De Pere, WI) who continued its success, qualifying for the Run-Offs in 1969 and 1970. He then sold it to Bill Anspach (Palm Beach Gardens, FL) who won the Florida Region FC title in 1971. It went to Bud Bakels (also Palm Beach Gardens, FL) in 1972 and is then missing until 1985 when it was found, still in Anspach's livery, and bought from Randy Morvant (Vidor, TX) by David Roland (Alexandria, LA). Sold to Wayne Mitchell (Cardiff, CA) in 2006 and bought from him by Robs Lamplough (Hungerford, Berkshire) and returned to the UK in 2011. Fully restored by Jeremy Bennett of Nemesis Racing (Tetbury, Gloucestershire) and run for the first time at Castle Combe in April 2016.
Driven by: Richard Thompson, Briggs Cunningham, Augie Pabst, Thomas Gelb and Dennis F. Lokmer. First race: Sebring International Raceway, 23 Mar 1962. Total of 35 recorded races.
Information from Duncan Rabagliati of the Formula 1 Register lists this car as "1962 J.Reid for John Youl" but no results for John Youl in a BT2 have been found and John Youl's former mechanic says he never drove a BT2. Logically, this must have been Frank Gardner's early season car, which was presumably either wrecked or given a new identity FJ-8-62 before being sold at the end of the season. No sign has been found of FJ-2-62 in 1963.
Driven by: Frank Gardner. First race: Oulton Park, 7 Apr 1962. Total of 16 recorded races.
Built at MRD by Frank Gardner and raced by Gavin Youl as a factory entry in European FJ in 1962. Taken to Australia at the end of the European season, and raced by Youl in the Australian Formula Junior Championship race at Catalina Park in late October. Sold to Geoff McClelland (NSW, Australia) 1963 and raced in Australia as a FJ and later with a 1.5-litre engine in ANF1.5. To Phil West (NSW, Australia) 1966 December and raced in ANF2 - Mike Barker (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia) March 1968 - Peter Roach (Victoria, Australia) 1970 - Doug Hicks (Victoria, Australia) 1972 and fitted with 1300cc Toyota Corolla engine for ANF3; also driven by Peter Jones - Alan Smith (Tasmania, Australia) 1974 and driven by Geoff Bantick. In November 1993, Denis Lupton purchased the car for Jim Russell (Victoria, Australia) and started a full restoration to its original FJ spec. To Nick MacDonald (Australia) 1995 who completed the restoration. To Graham Brown (Queensland, Australia) either 1998 or 2003 and raced consistently in Australian until 2013 when he sold it to Grant Craft. Raced by Craft at Sydney Motorsport Park (Eastern Creek) 23-24 November 2013.
Driven by: Gavin Youl, Denis Hulme, Geoff McClelland, Phil West, Peter Roach and Doug Hicks. First race: Silverstone, 12 May 1962. Total of 18 recorded races.
Sold to French FJ team Inter Auto-Course 1962 for Jean Moench to race in French FJ events. To The Tulip Stable for Klaas 'Jimmy' Twisk 1963 and raced across Europe. To Ray Moore for F3 1964 but Moore crashed at Oulton Park 21 Mar 1964, hitting a large tree and was killed. No contemporary information has been found to indicate that the car was rebuilt but Frank Williams drove a Brabham in F3 in 1965 that has been described as a crashed BT2 and in the absence of any other candidate BT2s, it is possible that this was Moore's car. Nothing more known about either Moore's or Williams' car. A car with this number later reported to have been in Australia and brought back to the UK by John Harper around 1990. Restored by Peter Denty and with Simon Ham (UK) 1997. This car is listed in F1R publications as "FJ-4-62(II)". Raced by Ham at Mallory Park August 2010.
Driven by: Jean Moench, Klaas Twisk and Ray Moore. First race: Montlhéry, 29 Apr 1962. Total of 25 recorded races.
Sold to French FJ team Inter Auto-Course 1962 for Jo Schlesser to race in European FJ events. Retained for 1963 and used by Schlesser in non-championship F1 events using a 1.5-litre Holbay Ford engine. To Michel Finquel (Lechelles, CH) for 1964 and raced in the new 1000cc Formula 3, mainly in France. To Michel Pont (France) 1965 - Hugues Hazard (Metz, France) 1966 - Roger Anzemberg (Bainville aux Miroirs, France) 1967 - Gérard Privé (Metz, France) 1970 - René Nau (Izon, France) 1971 - Bertrand de Passemar (Pomport, France) 1989 - Michel Réchéde (Pau, France) 2007. Réchéde has researched the car in detail and has a complete file on its life. In March 2013, Michel reported that the restoration was complete and that FJ-5-62 would race again in 2013.
Driven by: Jo Schlesser, Michel Finquel, Roger Anzemberg and Gérard Privé. First race: Montlhéry, 29 Apr 1962. Total of 29 recorded races.
Sold to South African Bob Olthoff and used in mainly British Formula Junior events fitted with a BMC engine. Sold at the end of the season to Ted Carter, an American then living in Japan and raced by him at the Macau GP that November. Subsequently via L C Kwan to S Y Tam by 1966. History then unknown until the car reappeared in Australia in the 1980s and was sold via Len Selby to the UK around 2000. Bought in July 2005 by Marcus Mussa (Monte Carlo) and raced in historic FJ. To Tommaso Gelmini (Italy) for the 2011 season. Sold in 2012 to Rudolf Ernst (Germany) who raced it at Silverstone Oct 2012 and through the 2013 season. Retained by Rudolf January 2014.
Driven by: Bob Olthoff and Ted Carter. First race: Silverstone, 16 Jun 1962. Total of 11 recorded races.
Believed to be the car sold to Hap Sharp (Midland, TX), and entered for the Road America June Sprints. Sharp's car was also driven by Jim Hall (Abilene, TX) at Continental Divide in September 1962. Likely to be the car of Howard S Cole (Houston, TX) although this identity remains unproven. Cole's first known race in the car is November 1962. Cole's home town of Houston is just 500 miles from Sharp's base in Midland, a mere stone's throw by the standards of a Texan road racer. Cole sold his car to Ken Leith (Houston, TX), who raced it in an event at Stuttgart Airport late in November 1963. During 1964, the only mentions of Leith's Brabham were in The Shreveport (Louisiana) Times previews of SCCA Divisional races at Mansfield's De Soto Airport in June and at Hilltop Raceway in September, when it was said that Leith would run his Brabham. An "ex-Hap Sharp" Brabham was raced by Earl Jones (Los Angeles, CA) in Formula B in 1965. In August 1967, the disassembled "ex-Earl Jones" Brabham was advertised by Richard Timan (San Francisco, CA).
Driven by: Hap Sharp, Jim Hall, Howard Cole, Ken Leith and Earl Jones. First race: Road America, 16 Jun 1962. Total of 14 recorded races.
Either a replacement for Frank Gardner's FJ-2-62 at some unknown point during the 1962 season or a new identity given to the car when it was shipped to Australia at the end of the European season. Used by Gardner in Australian national racing in early 1963 and then to Len Deaton later in 1963. To Barry Collerson for 1964 and 1965, then Kevin Pinkstone 1966. Then to further Australian owners John Mellen 1969, Peter Taylor and Brian Morrow 1972, John Hilliar 1973, Spencer Bates 1977, Tony Galletly 1980, Bryan Miller 1982, Tony Moodie 1991 and Ken Hastings 1992. While with Hastings it was damaged and rebuilt with a new frame. Then sold to John Streets in the US 2001 then to Dave Zurlinden (Carmel Valley, CA) in 2003 and raced to the end of 2008. To John Dowson (Tunbridge Wells, Kent) September 2009. Sold to Chris Chilcott (Aberdeen, Scotland) in February 2015, together with the damaged original frame.
Driven by: Frank Gardner, Len Deaton and Barry Collerson. First race: Warwick Farm, 10 Feb 1963. Total of 8 recorded races.
To Cliff Ward (Berkswell, Warwickshire) in September 1962 and raced occasionally in British Formula Junior using a Holbay 1100cc engine. The first entries for this car were in September 1962, but the first certain appearance was not until early 1963. Advertised by Ward in November 1963, and sold to Roger Mac late 1963, who raced it in the new 1-litre Formula 3 in 1964 with a Holbay engine, winning a number of club races. To Tony Dean (Leeds, Yorkshire) early 1965 but quickly replaced with a new BT15 and sold on to John Mansfield who raced it to the end of 1965. To Geddes Yeates for 1966 then with John Aspinall in 1968 and then to Paul and Andrew Hull for Monoposto in 1970. Raced by the Hulls to 1974 at least and with Mike Harrison (Ledbury, Herefordshire) by 1976. Said to have been bought by Harrison from Jeremy Bouckley. Raced by Harrison in the 1978 Chandler Hargeaves Formula Junior championship. Then unknown until sold by Peter Denty (Wretham, Norfolk) to Jerome Morici (Clifton, NJ) in either 1992 or 1999. Sold on to Bob Goeldner (Longmeadow, MA) in either 1997 or 2001. Raced by Goeldner at VSCCA Lime Rock in September 2013. Sold in September 2017 to VSCC racer Ed Bradley and son Richard (Greenwich, London). Returned to the UK in 2018, and raced at Goodwood 2018.
Driven by: Cliff Ward, Roger Mac, Tony Dean, John Mansfield, Geddes Yeates, John Aspinall and Paul Hull. First race: Silverstone, 15 Sep 1962. Total of 38 recorded races.
New in late 1962 to 22-year-old Ernie de Vos (Dorval, Quebec) - sometimes given as "Ernest DeVos" - who had driven a Formula Junior Lola in 1962. After the Riverside race in late 1962, he did a deal with a spectating Jack Brabham to buy a Brabham Junior in instalments. His first race in the Brabham was at the Nassau Speed Week in December 1962, where he retired when running second. He also retired from second place at Sebring in March 1963. De Vos later won two races at Conner Airport, St Eugene, in late June; the Mohawk Cup at Watkins Glen the next weekend; and then two more races at St Eugene in early July. He was second behind Mark Donohue's curious rear-engined midget at Lime Rock later in July, won at Meadowdale in early August, and was third at Mid-Ohio in September. The De Vos Brabham is then unknown in 1964, but is presumably the "Brabham Junior" advertised by Ted Regan (Montreal) in January and March 1964. Subsequent history unknown.
Driven by: Ernie de Vos. First race: Oakes Field Course, Nassau, 12 Dec 1962. Total of 7 recorded races.
Sold via Brabham's Australian agent Alec Mildren Pty Ltd to David Walker, and raced by Walker in 1963, 1964 and early 1965. Raced by Ralph Sach in 1965 then a Mildren entry with a 1500cc Ford twin cam for Frank Gardner and Kevin Bartlett during the 1965/66 season. To Competition Cars (Aust) for Mike Champion in the 1966 and 1967 Gold Star seasons, then to Brian Page for 1968. Entered by Graham Collier for Jack Bono in 1969. Through Australian owners Chris Farrell 1971, James Crawford 1973, Greg Kinlin 1977 and Graham Healey 1984 to Bryan Miller 1984 who restored it to Alec Mildren late 1965 spec with Ford twin-cam and raced extensively. To Colin Haste (Port Macquarie, NSW, Australia) 1998 and raced extensively in Australian Formula Junior Association events. Entered by Haste at Wakefield Park 23/24 February 2013. Still owned by Haste in July 2015.
Driven by: Dave Walker, Ralph Sach, Frank Gardner, Kevin Bartlett, Mike Champion, Phil West, Brian Page, Jack Bono and Chris Farrell. First race: Sandown Park (R4), 15 Sep 1963. Total of 41 recorded races.
The interim car numbered FJ-1-63 that was raced by Denny Hulme at the Boxing Day Brands Hatch race at the end of 1962 is covered here with the Brabham BT6s. It should be remembered that Brabham did not use the terms BT2 and BT6 for their cars in 1962 and 1963; those names were applied retrospectively.
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