The contribution made by Repco and Jack Brabham to the industrial and motor racing heritage of Melbourne’s inner west was recognised at a ceremony on 30 September 2015. The event, sponsored by the City of Maribyrnong, was held at the former site of Repco-Brabham Engines Pty Ltd in Maidstone.
It was at their premises in Mitchell Street that the Repco-Brabham RB620 engine was developed that powered Brabham to the 1966 World Formula 1 Drivers Championship. Another Repco engine enabled Brabham team driver Denny Hulme to win the championship the following year. More sports car and Formula 5000 engines were produced in subsequent years.
The Repco-Brabham factory has now given way to residential redevelopment. The Deputy Mayor of the City of Maribyrnong, Cr Cameron McDonald, was a prime mover in the council deciding to honour the memory of the area’s industrial past with a special installation describing Repco-Brabham’s achievements. A plinth with photographs of the factory, Brabham driving his championship winning BT19 and the story of the company has been erected in a park on the former factory site.
In the mid-1960s, Repco was the leading engine and performance parts engineering company in Australia. It had been associated with Brabham’s racing endeavours for some years, but the idea of producing a complete engine to take on the likes of Ferrari, BRM and Coventry Climax in Formula 1 was to say the least a gutsy move. The power plant gave Brabham’s BT19 racer the power and reliability that car designer Ron Tauranac needed to complete a championship winning package. Brabham’s class behind the wheel delivered the goods – both the Drivers and Constructors championships.
It’s well known that in 1966 Brabham became the only driver to win either championship, let alone both, in a car bearing his own name. But one reason many regard that era as a special time in motor racing is that a relatively small company like Repco, located a long way from the centre of Formula 1 action in Europe, could have such an impact. A special element of the installation opening ceremony was the tributes to the talented Repco staff who produced such fine machinery.
Former Repco-Brabham director Tony Avery and Cr McDonald cut a ribbon to open the installation, in front of dozens of former staff. Memorabilia and photographs from the 1960s was displayed in a marquee alongside the Repco-Brabham BT19 itself. The car’s custodian, former Repco manager Nigel Tait, delighted the crowd by starting the Repco-Brabham V8 engine for one last rev at its birthplace in Maidstone.