September 24, 2009

Brabham BT58 to BT60

A little history

Slimy Mr. B. having successfully used the team he owned, Brabham, as a footstep in controlling the FOCA, and soon the FIA as a whole through his accomplice Max Mosley, he found himself with a useless and somewhat faltering outfit on hands and decided to pass it to a new owner. He found one in a businessman from Switzerland, Joachim Luhti.

After Brabham missed the 1988 Formula One season, the famous name was back in the paddocks for 1989 under its new management. The one-year hiatus didn’t necessarily do good to the team. Their new car, the Judd-powered BT58, was hardly competitive. Stefano Modena, who had launched his career in Formula One with Brabham two years before, was back after a one-season stunt with Eurobrun. With him was Martin Brundle. Despite a promising 3rd place in Monaco for Modena, both pilots struggled throughout the year, even to qualify. The team ended up with eight points, to split equally between its two drivers.

Even more annoying for Brabham’s future was the fact that Luhti had finished the year in jail on unrelated charges. The team’s ownership switched to a Japanese company, Middlebridge Racing, a F3000 outfit which purchased Brabham using borrowed money.

Under Middlebridge, Brabham fielded Modena alongside Swiss pilot Gregor Foitek, not necessarily the most memorable of all Formula One drivers. Foitek had ran the 1989 season for Eurobrun and Rial without qualifying even once, and was dropped after only two races in favour of David Brabham, son of founder Jack Brabham. Brabham the Younger didn’t fare better than his predecessor, Modena alone being able to score two points in the opening race with the old BT58; the newer BT59 which replaced it didn’t bring a single point.

This catastrophe of a car had nonetheless to be carried over for the first two races of 1991 as the BT59Y, now powered by a fragile Yamaha V12. The BT60Y which succeeded it was, at least, able to gather a few points: two for the returning Martin Brundle, and a single one for newcomer and near-homonymous Mark Blundle.

From the onset, Brabham’s 1992 season was to be a terrible one: short on cash, the team was running after sponsors to keep itself afloat. No new car could be designed for lack of budget, and only an updated machine, the BT60B for which the team reverted to a Judd engine, could be entered. Pilots were to be Eric Van de Poele, with one race and… fifteen non-qualifications under his belt, and Giovanna Amati, the first lady driver in Formula One since Divina Galica in the late Seventies. The choice of Amati was more a publicity stunt than a serious attempt at finding a competitive driver, and she ended up being kicked out of the team after only three races when unable to provide the promised sponsorship contracts. After giving a chance to David Brabham the year before, the team followed up by replacing Amati with the heir of another famous name of the Sixties, Damon Hill. At least the promising Hill was sometimes able to qualify the hopeless car, but scoring points was out of the question. At any rate the team didn’t even finish the season: Middlebridge proved unable to repay the loans that had been granted to it, and brought its creditors along in its fall. The whole story ended up with several jail sentences being pronounced regarding the conditions in which the money had changed hands. Unfortunately, the favourite’s stage of Brabham’s last years had been more often a tribunal than a podium.

About the model

Model: Brabham BT60B - Judd
Year: 1992
Event: 1992 Formula One Championship, driven by Eric Van de Poele (non-classified)
Maker: Minichamps
Scale: 1/43
Distributed by: Minichamps, limited edition
Acquired: second hand with stand and box, from a friend, in May 2006, in Manila, Philippines

Okay, there’s nothing remarkable about either Eric Van de Poele or the BT60B, but that’s just what I enjoy about this model. I can understand people having tens of Michael Schumacher’s Ferraris on their shelves, but it’s not my thing. Fortunately Minichamps is here to propose original Formula One entries in 1/43 at a fairly nice level of quality and a correct price. My rating is 14/20.






José António said...

Excelent model! Very nice... and excelent text, too! The F1 its my favourit theme. Thanks for "charing" with us.

lorenzo721 said...

Thank you José António. As my interest goes more to Le Mans cars I don't have many Formula Ones among my models. I hope that one day I'll be able to correct this, most notably by adding cars from the Sixties to the Eighties.

JB said...

Beautiful model

Great work by Minichamps


lorenzo721 said...

Thanks JB. Minichamps indeed make very nice 1/43 Formula Ones!