David Brabham, the youngest son of three-time Formula One World Champion Sir Jack, will help start the celebrations surrounding the 50th anniversary of his father's first F1 title in style at the opening round of the 2009 American Le Mans Series.
Aside from making his return to the LMP1 class with the new Patron Highcroft Acura at Sebring, Brabham will also climb back into the racing seat of Jack's 1959 championship-winning Cooper-Climax.
On 12 December 1959, Sir Jack literally pushed his Cooper-Climax T51 across the finishing line after it ran out of fuel to finish fourth and become the first Australian F1 champion, beating Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks.
Half a century on, Brabham Jr will mark the start of the 50th anniversary celebrations by conducting parade laps in his father's 1959 championship-winning Cooper-Climax prior to the 12-hour race on Saturday. Now owned by Mrs Joel Finn, the car is being specially transported to the event courtesy of Patron Highcroft team principal Duncan Dayton, giving thousands of racing fans the chance to join in the festivities.
“To be given the opportunity to drive my father's 1959 F1 championship-winning Cooper at the circuit where he captured the title by literally pushing the car across the line, is incredible,” Brabham said. “It will be amazing to recapture that moment in motorsport history, and it will be a dream come true for me and a great moment for the entire family as well as the fans, some of who will remember the race itself.
“Duncan [Dayton] is a huge fan of my father's and I know he will be really chuffed to see the car in action with me at the wheel, but when I go to get in the car, I might just find Duncan already in the seat! My huge thanks go to the owner, Mrs Joel Finn, and to Duncan and the Patrón Highcroft team for making this even possible.”
Brabham returns to ALMS for his eleventh season in 2009 and will again be partnered by Scott Sharp as Highcroft moves up from LMP2. Dario Franchitti will join the pair for Sebring as the team looks to give the new Acura a winning start to the new campaign.
“Last year with Patron Highcroft Racing was amazing, and 2009 promises to be even bigger and potentially better,” Brabham continued. “I'm delighted to rejoin the team as we embark on the Acura P1 campaign this season. It's a really exciting programme to which we are all committed and, after all of the pre-season testing, we are looking forward to getting the first race underway at Sebring.
“On a personal note, it's great for me to return to P1 in the ALMS while I will also be driving for Peugeot Sport in the Spa 1,000 kilometres and Le Mans 24 Hours, which I hope will give me the opportunity to take overall victory after winning the GT1 class for the past two years. But firstly, my focus is on Sebring and I couldn't think of a better way to start the year by opening my father's 50th anniversary celebrations while undertaking my first race in P1 with Patron Highcroft and Acura. Sebring is going to be a truly special event.”