Brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler Carlo Carluccio
– 1974: Gordon Murray’s first winner
Tamiya has a rich tradition of manufacturing the most sublime model racing car kits. Their production of 1/12th scale models are possibly the epitome of this forgotten art and we have been privileged to have models dating back to the 60’s – iconic classics from all of the great manufacturers.
Adrian Newey is on record as having been a fan and part of his formative understanding of Grand Prix dynamics came from building these exquisite models. Yet from all the vast selection to choose from – including the ‘super-kits’ from the early 90’s – my personal favourite is the beautiful Brabham BT44b.
If there has been a more stunning colour scheme than the Martini colours I have yet to see it. It looks great on whatever car they have been applied to – be it Formula One, sports-cars or World Rally cars – and I for one cannot wait to see a Williams driver park his car in one of the top three positions after a race.
The BT44b was a development of the 1974 BT44 which itself was an evolution of the original BT42.
On this day Carlos Reutemann secured victory at the South African Grand Prix when he guided his Brabham BT44 to victory. It was the enigmatic Argentinians first Grand Prix victory in Formula One but this win also proved a milestone for the man behind this design. A true maverick from South Africa named Gordon Murray.
He arrived in England after having been offered a job with Lotus but his arrival coincided with a recession and Lotus had just laid off 60 people – “Then I really struggled to get a job. I was almost out of time when I stumbled, by accident, into an interview at Brabham, where Ron Tauranac hired me as a junior designer.”
Within a year Bernie Ecclestone had bought Jack Brabham’s 50 percent of the team and by the end of the following year he had bought Tauranac out too. Bernie would fire the other designers and promoted Murray to chief designer.
Ecclestone left Murray alone in designing and running the cars: “Formula 1 was an amazing place to be an engineer in the ’70s. That was what I loved about it. You could have an idea in the bath, go to work the next morning and draw the bits, make them the next day, test them the day after, and then race that weekend and go a second per lap quicker. Now you have 200 aerodynamicists working 240 days a year to go half a second quicker.”
Murray would remain Brabham’s chief designer until he left to join Mclaren as their technical director in 1987. During his era Brabhams were always beautiful cars to behold – many of which pushed design boundaries beyond the letter of the law.