David Brabham, Driving For TEAM PANOZ

Las Vegas Motor Speedway, November 6-7, 1999

"Brabham" is Australian for "Andretti." Or should be. Sir Jack Brabham is one of the all-time great race drivers. Among his many other accomplishments his entering a rear-engine car at the Indy 500 in the 1960s spelled the beginning of the end for the traditional, front-end Indy roadster. Son Jeff Brabham totally dominated IMSA prototype sportscar racing for Nissan in the 1980s. And now it is the turn of Jeff's brother David to keep the Brabham name in the winner's circle. David is currently driving LeMans-type sports cars for the Panoz team, and coming into the Las Vegas event - the final race of the season - he was leading in the points for the championship. Unfortunately, the car experienced a flat tire during a stint by his co-driver near the end of the race and David was unable to make up enough time to clinch the championship (although Panoz did win the manufacturers' championship, to the great satisfaction of team-owner Don Panoz). David's reaction to coming so close to victory, only to have it snatched away at the last minute? Just a shrug. It's racing, after all. If winning were a sure thing, nobody would be interested. Especially somebody as competitive on the track as David Brabham.
These sports cars are the same ones that race at the fabled 24 Hours of Le Mans, perhaps the most prestigious single event in all of motor racing. This form of racing has yet to find a mass audience in the United States but that is likely to change now that the series is being televised and fans find out how powerful and exciting these race cars can be.
The crew only looks casual. This is a very intense and competitive group.
The "move out of the way" got waved a lot as the Panoz cars charged through the field.
Real race cars are tools. I had a driver friend who used to build a car and then bash it a few times with a ball-peen hammer, just to keep himself from worring too much about his body work and not enough about doing what it took to win. Cars like the Panoz blend high technology and complex engineering with strictly utilitarian practicality, designed for go rather than show.
Race cars run as much on sponsor money as they do racng fuel. As successful as team owner Don Panoz might be, he still needs sponsors to support his racing efforts. Expenses for a team like this run into the many millions over the course of a season. So when you see names like VISTEON, SENSORMATIC or FORD on the cars or the drivers' clothing, these aren't just commerical advertisements - they are the lifeblood of a racing team, the sine qua non (without which, nothing) which makes the whole enterprise possible.

David Brabham with his friend and personal manager Don Macpherson. I'd like to express my appreciation to both for allowing me access to the team and the Las Vegas Motor Speedway - making these photos, and this page on my site, possible. Thanks, guys.