The International Motorsports Hall of Fame, along with the entire motorsports community, is mourning the loss of two of the most respected men in the sport.
Sir Jack Brabham, the three-time Formula One Champion who was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1990, passed away May 19. Veteran NASCAR team owner and 2007 IMHOF inductee Junie Donlavey, who inspired many well-known driving talents across six decades, lost his life on Monday, June 9.
The Australian driver Brabham, who was knighted for his services in motorsports in 1979, won Formula One titles in 1959, 1960, and in 1966 with his own constructed car – the rear-engined BT19. He remains the only man in history to have designed, built and driven a championship winning car in Formula One.
After starting his racing career in 1948, Brabham made his Grand Prix debut in 1955. His Grand Prix wins ranged from 1959 through 1970, his last year behind the wheel at age 43.
Donlavey, who provided cars for countless drivers from the 1950s through the 2000s, passed away at 90 (which incidentally was his car number for most of his career) years old. Running on a limited budget, he competed in 863 races with such notable names behind the wheel as David Pearson, Buck and Buddy Baker, Fred Lorenzen, Benny Parsons, Joe Weatherly, Ken Schrader and Ricky Rudd. Alabama drivers Hut Sticklin, Gary Bradberry and Jimmy Means also drove machines prepared by Donlavey, who actually had 60 drivers during his career.
A favorite amongst his peers and fans alike, Donlavey’s team won one race in 1981 at Dover with Jodie Ridley as the pilot. His teams finished in the top 10 of the championship standings eight times, with a best finish of fifth with Ridley in ’81. He was notorious for giving young talent a chance to drive his cars – Bill Dennis (1970), Ridley (1980) and Schrader (1985) won NASCAR’s Rookie of the Year honors for Donlavey.
At the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of these two racing greats.