Crashes, driving tests and dream cars. A chat with Sam Brabham!
Photo Credit - Jakob Ebrey
Towards the end of March, Marmalade attended the Silverstone Classic Preview day and not only did we get an insight into what they have in store for you at their main event this year, we also managed to have a few words with one of motorsport’s famous young drivers - Sam Brabham!
Sam is a 22 year old who comes from 3 generations of racing drivers. His dad David Brabham, is one of four Australians to ever win the Le Mans 24 hour sports race and his grandad (Sir Jack Brabham) was the 3 time Formula One world champion when he won in 1959, 1960 and 1966.
Life on the track began in 2011 when Sam was just 16 year’s old and he got into karting. In 2013 he quickly advanced into the British Formula Ford World Championships where he finished fourth and second in the scholarship challenge that same year. 2014 was the last time he competed, but it was also that last race which saw him have a pretty brutal accident on the track…
Sam says believe it or not, he was lucky to come out completely unscathed from this event and it could have been much worse! Despite his tumble on the circuit, he is keen to get back into racing! We wanted to find out what life was like for him around the time he passed his driving test and how his career in motorsport affected this.
Hi Sam! Can you tell us a bit about when you passed your test and what your first driving lesson was like, if you can remember back to it?
I passed my test when I was 17 and my first official driving lesson was with my dad. We used to go out practicing round carparks and an airfield. It was quite difficult, because I had a guy sitting next to me with 30 years’ experience in motor racing telling me what to do! Of course I’m doing everything wrong initially, and he was just screaming at me saying “what are you doing, what are you doing!?” So I learnt before I could actually drive and when I did my first lesson with an instructor - he was quite surprised! But I’ve been doing karting and stuff before that so I was quite used to what a car would feel like.
You were definitely well equipped for the road beforehand then :) Did you pass your driving test first time and did you get any minors?
Yep! First time with no minors! Although I was lucky because at one point I thought I was speeding, and the guy just either didn’t notice or didn’t bother saying anything, so I sort of winged my way out of it ;) But yeah no minors which is quite pleasing!
Pretty much a flawless victory then! How soon was it after your 17th birthday did you pass?
Err, I think it was around 2 months. Because I’d been racing, I knew how to drive so it was just the laws of the road which were the things I needed to get used to, such as having other road users travelling in the opposite direction, lights, signs and different things like that. But the clutch, brakes, throttle and stuff I knew how to control already.
There’s definitely a lot to remember and get used to if you’re only accustomed to a raceway! What was the most challenging part of your test? Were there any manoeuvres that you struggled with such as turn in the road, parallel parking?
Not really, the most difficult bit for me was my dad saying to me “don’t mention your racing, because they’ll think you’re a boy racer”! I started talking to the examiner and he said what do you do? I just told him I go to college and play football… he then said “well surely you go racing judging by your surname?” That’s where I knew I couldn’t not say yes, so we just ended up talking about motor racing for around 30 minutes and I was terrified because I was thinking, now he’s REALLY going to be analysing what I am doing because he’s going to assume that I should be good at it. So that was probably the hardest part, trying to divert away from the racing side of it and hope that he didn’t notice my mistakes!
I can imagine that would make you pretty nervous, good job he was into racing himself! Have you got any advice for young drivers who may have an interest or be looking to get into motorsport?
As far as getting into motor racing is concerned it is difficult, I was very lucky when I was younger that sponsors did come and help me out, but the last 3 years I haven’t been racing! So I think if you’re going to do it, you have to put everything into it. I’ve sacrificed getting a full time job etc to make it happen and I’m only just starting to see those rewards now. It’s not to say to give up everything, I still went to uni and got a degree and did plenty of other things, but you have to put your heart and soul into it while you can because you don’t want to live with any regret in the future. That’s the most important thing and having that dedication. Also a little bit of luck, but I also think you make your own luck at the same time as well!
Luck was definitely on your side when you had your accident! Finally, can you tell us what your dream car is and why?
Probably an old 911 Porsche Turbo with the big wing on the back. I always remember seeing them when I was growing up and my grandad had one! I saw one recently when I was in Nice, France doing some filming stuff and I saw this old guy looking really well dressed in his old, classic, mint condition Porsche 911 Turbo and I just thought “That is exactly where I want to be when I’m older” driving one of those things, on the beach in Nice! If I end up like that I’ll be very happy :)