JD Classics welcomed around 550 people to another of its much-lauded breakfast mornings over the weekend, highlighted by an insightful talk from one of Formula One’s most legendary figures, Ross Brawn OBE.
The ballot for tickets was announced in October, and JD Classics was swamped with entrants. The lucky few won the chance to visit JD Classics’ Maldon HQ, home to workshops and showrooms packed full of priceless classic cars. The centerpiece of the event was a talk from Ross Brawn OBE – the man behind world championship-winning Brawn GP, and many of the successes for Ferrari, Benetton, Mercedes GP and more.
No longer involved in Formula One, Brawn spoke of his struggle to watch from the comfort of his home: “I’m always shouting at the teams, telling them what to do!” And who can blame him? Brawn started in Formula One when he was taken on as a machinist at Williams in 1978. “At the time I was the eleventh member of staff… when I left Ferrari Formula One in 2006 there were around 1000 people,” Brawn continued.
From Formula One, Brawn had a brief foray in IndyCar racing in 1985 with the Haas Lola team and then moved to sports car racing in 1989 where he designed the XJR-14. “That was special for me; that’s the first car I designed that won a race,” Brawn said. “Despite weighing 250kg more than a Formula One car it would have qualified half-way up the Formula One grid.”
Brawn then moved back to Formula One with Benetton in 1991 as Technical Director, where he won two world championships with Michael Schumacher in 1994 and 1995. “Michael, interestingly, always looked at how his teammate was driving and where they were making gains. Often his teammate never looked at how Michael was doing. He was a great athlete… he even designed gym equipment to help strengthen his neck.”
In 1997 Brawn became Technical Director of Ferrari where he won six consecutive constructors’ championships – relishing the opportunity to work for a team with its own engine division and its own test track. But Brawn eventually left in 2006 for a sabbatical before moving to work for Honda F1 in late 2007. As Honda chose to withdraw from F1 in late 2008, the foundations for Brawn GP were laid.
“As a matter of record we actually bought Honda F1 for £1,” said Brawn, “I walked in to the executive’s office and handed him a £1 coin.” From that Brawn GP was born – a team that was run with 400 people when most teams had more than 700. But Brawn GP managed the unthinkable, winning both the constructors’ and drivers’ championships in 2009.
From there, the team was sold to Mercedes GP – where Brawn was briefly joined by Schumacher – before Brawn eventually retired from the sport in 2014. Brawn spoke of spending part of his time these days with his classic cars, among them a Ferrari 250 GT SWB raced by Sir Stirling Moss at Goodwood. Walking around the JD Classics’ showrooms, Brawn had his eye on an immaculate ex-Works Competition Lotus Cortina, reminding him of his very first car; a standard Ford Cortina.
More dates and details of JD Classics breakfast mornings will be announced in the New Year.
Source. JD Classics/Photo. Michael Bailie