The iconic Brabham moniker returned to the public conscience with a bang in September with the announcement of 'Project Brabham', an ambitious plan to not only revive a historic team, but to do so by involving fans every step of the way.

Beginning with a bold crowd-funding bid, this week saw Project Brabham comfortably meet its first target of raising ?250,000 and the figure continues to rise having now surpassed ?270,000. With the crowd-funding deadline still more than 24 hours away, caught up with former Le Mans 24 Hours race winner and manager David Brabham to discuss where he is taking Project Brabham next...
Take me back to the beginning and explain how the idea for Project Brabham came about?

David Brabham
It has been ongoing for some time because it was nearly nine years ago when I thought 'what am I going to do when I retire from driving?' Of course we have this name 'Brabham', but we haven't done anything with it. It has all of this history and heritage and it means a lot to a lot of people, but we have never turned it into a brand. After trying to see what Dad had done with protecting the name, we discovered someone had registered it in Germany, so we went through all the courts and essentially went through 7 years of trying to do something with it. We had our scars but the way things have developed - the idea we have come up with, the partners that we have to help us get there - it has possibly been a good thing because I probably wouldn't have done as good a job back then as what I have done right now. There is always a silver lining in stormy clouds, but I am much happier doing what I am doing now, it is the right time for this type of model and just by the response we have had from fans and media, everybody seems to be talking about Project Brabham and has made quite a wave.
Crowd-funding has become a popular fundraising strategy across various industries, but hasn't always proven successful. How confident were you that you that this plan would take off?

David Brabham
We were confident in that we set a target that we felt was achievable. It is quite new and, like you say, it can be a bit hit and miss, but one of the strongest things we had was the name and we knew it would gain a lot of traction in terms of media exposure around the world when we announced something. It did make headlines - more so than we thought it would - and the momentum has carried on from there. We are relieved to have reached our first target and the wheels are in motion towards phase two, three, four and so on. It has been a great platform for us and it has given us great exposure. It has given us a fan engagement straight away, people are still contributing and it has been a terrific success.
The crowd-funding platform is just one aspect of a broader project, so where will the money raised so far go towards your ultimate goals?

David Brabham
When we started the campaign, it was very much 'this is the start of the journey'. There is a long way to go, but together we can create something quite special and the crowd-funding platform gave us that ability to have people engage in what we do and become part of our team - the heartbeat of our team. The funding is there to help in the next four to five months in terms of putting a prospectus together with all of the data that we are receiving from crowd-funding, such as the countries we have reached, how many people that have engaged in the programme, the general comments and the potential partners that have come out since we've launched. We are putting a business plan together based on all of that information. We should have a pretty strong prospectus then to go to market and earn the proper money to go racing and do it properly.
What has the highest bid been so far?

David Brabham
There is the ?10,000 one-on-one driving day with me at Siilverstone, we have sold three of those. Someone today, we don't know who, has done a future Le Mans hospitality package, which is ?2,500 and that has given the total another boost. The more we raise through the campaign the better, it just speeds things up a bit more.
So where does Project Brabham go from here?

David Brabham
We will build the front end of Brabham Digital. What we have said from the beginning is that we will engage the community with what we do and how we do it. Give them behind the scenes access in building this, because we don't have the money to throw around to buy a car, buy a factory and off we go, there is a process and it is being part of what that process is. We have already asked the community to vote on several things, such as what we wanted to do next - they have done that and will continue to do that. Brabham Digital gives them the platform to look and see what we do, as well as build the prospectus. Once we build the prospectus we go to market and we look for investors. I think we have something very viable as a business and moving forward because an investor is not just investing in a race team as such, it is a far bigger picture of what we are doing and the other revenue opportunities that this open platform actually presents
So the initial plan is to take the Brabham name back into racing with a sportscar entry?

David Brabham
The sooner we get the money, the sooner we go racing. The plan is to do the World Endurance Championship in LMP2. The great thing about WEC is that it is a world stage, you can buy an LMP2 car and go racing. That was our best option and that is what we are aiming to do.
Does this platform have the potential to take Brabham back to the pinnacle of motorsport? F1 has been mentioned...

David Brabham
To see Brabham back in Formula 1 would be fantastic and that would be a long-term goal, but I am not thinking too much about that. The focus is what we are doing today, what we are doing in the next six months and getting the team up and running. When I think back to when we launched Project Brabham to where we are now, I never imagined the people that we would be talking to and it is amazing how things fall into place when you go out and have a great idea. As we build over the next two or three years, F1 becomes a closer reality but that's a long-term goal. I am realistic. It is very easy to get carried away, but let's just focus on what we can do. The state of F1 at the moment and the state of its finances and troubles, I wouldn't want to take a team into that environment anyway.
What do you make of Caterham's own crowd-funding plans to get on the F1 grid in Abu Dhabi next week?

David Brabham
I would say it is quite different. They are an F1 team on the ropes and they are doing whatever they can to survive, so they seem to be selling whatever they have in the workshops to raise the funds. You wish them luck that they will find investment because there are a lot of people out of work at the moment, and it is not just those two teams, it is the suppliers that feed into the teams will be hurting too.
Do you feel Project Brabham has the potential to be something of a pioneer in the way it is raising funds and engaging with fans?

David Brabham
Our whole programme is very much about engagement because it is an open and transparent approach, which is not a normal race team. Normal race teams close doors - they keep their technology to themselves and they see it as their advantage. We know that is a model, financially, that is very difficult to sustain. We are just going in with a different approach, one that is open, transparent and has fan engagement. We are going to create learning modules for drivers and engineers and expand on that in so many different areas. it is just a different way of going racing. The main focus now will be putting the prospectus together. I don't want to do it half-heartedly, we either do it properly or not at all, but the way things are going gives us a lot of confidence of finding the right investor. It is not just a case of trying to go out and find whoever you can, the investor has to work with what we are doing as well.



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