Sports car and ex-F1 driver David Brabham last year announced Project Brabham, with the intention of bringing the Brabham Racing brand back to World Championship competition via the FIA World Endurance Championship LMP2 class in 2016; just 50 years after legendary triple World Champion and engineer Sir Jack Brabham (David’s father) became the only driver to win an F1 title in a car of his own name.
Over 3,000 contributors last year helped Project Brabham hit its target six days ahead of schedule, making it one of the biggest sports crowdfunding campaigns in the world and proving the demand for openness and transparency in motorsport.
Talking to theCheckeredFlag.co.uk shortly after the unveiling of the first stage of the Brabham- Digital website we asked why he felt that the “bold new approach to make motor-racing more accessible and more engaging to the fans” was important.
“There were many reasons for this,” said Brabham. “I firstly needed to secure the family name through the German courts as I had a responsibility to ensure the Brabham legacy stayed within the family.
“As a driver with over 30 years in the business, I know how difficult it can be for teams to survive in the industry. The world is changing fast with the power of the Internet and social media, which are changing the way that people are communicating and access information. This has had an effect on the sponsorship coming into the sport and I felt that Brabham needed to embrace this new technology to make the team sustainable.
“With many F1 teams especially struggling financially at the moment, I believe that there is another way of entering the sport. With Project Brabham, we will be entering motorsport in a unique way with fans engaging with a global motor racing team that allows them to be involved at every opportunity.
“We tested our vision through the Project Brabham crowdfunding campaign last year and there are 64 countries to date that have supported us so far. But this model also allows us to generate revenue through subscriptions to the Brabham-Digital portals so to give the Brabham Racing team a financially sustainable future.
Brabham believes that crowdfunding has helped them reach this important stage due to motorsport fans wanting the opportunity to get involved, also attracting the attention of big companies who have expressed an interest in the project.
“We had different levels of perks at different prices and the biggest investment the project received was £10,000 which entitled the contributor to a day out at Silverstone where they will be driving cars with myself and receiving one-on-one tuition,” stated Brabham.
“We received £100,000 in just three days. Emails were constantly coming through and I was just blown away with the responses. We have already received interesting approaches from big companies who are potentially interested in helping the project grow in the near future through partnerships. We are in the early stages of those discussions, but it gives us confidence moving forward.
“This would say to me that our project is ticking the right corporate boxes so to speak and through the growth of the Internet and Social Media, this not only brings people together generally in the motorsport community but also the chance to be involved in this project.”
The Brabham Racing brand is well known by motorsport fans around the world and was founded by David’s father, the late Sir Jack Brabham.
“My father knew about the project and its development stage before he sadly passed away,” revealed Brabham. “But once I got the Brabham name back I wanted to do something special to carry on his amazing legacy.
“Through brand research in the early development stages of the project; we found that the Brabham name was known by many as inspirational, innovative, engineering and winning, which is in our DNA anyways.”
“As for the boys racing for the Brabham team in the near future with my ‘father’ hat on, I would love to see them drive for us, but with a Team Principal hat on, I would look at it differently and would try to see if this arrangement would work for the company. Sam and Matt have the ability to drive for us, they are fast drivers and marketable, so they do fit the bill. We will have to see what happens in the future. They have been involved already in a small way contributing to some of the ideas, as they are young drivers and live in the digital age.”
With the launch of the first phase of the website, it allows fans the chance to participate through three categories; Brabham Fan, Brabham Driver and Brabham Engineer on an e-learning platform.
Brabham expressed the importance of the fan category as being hugely important and an area that needs to be tapped into further; with all areas giving fans the opportunity to learn more about the business in whatever aspect that interests them.
“I think the fan aspect of the project is really important and this will jointly developed by Brabham and the fans. Motorsport and sport in general can do more to engage people, but the best way to do this is to not fear being open and transparent. As soon as you open up, a whole new world of possibilities become apparent and you can tap into the collective minds of engaged people,” said Brabham.
“In order for us to get to this stage, we had to go through a process to even start to rebuild the house that Jack built. That began with getting the brand name back, getting feedback from the fans and the industry alike to come up with an innovative, new motorsport experience.
“The Brabham-Driver portal within our Brabham-Digital web platform will help drivers from around the world to learn and understand what it takes to become a professional racing driver. At the moment drivers find it difficult to get the right technical feedback on how to set up a car to maximise the car and the drivers’ potential. This is due to the environment being secretive and also having limited opportunities to learn.
“Brabham-Driver members will get to see how set-up changes affect a car, like the gearbox, seeing how a diff change works and influences the car. When our race team makes these changes, we will document them and explain how they are affecting what our car does and the drivers’ interpretations of that change. It allows people to get a much deeper understanding and creates a unique learning environment. We will also have other modules covering psychology, so how best to get into the right mind-set and how to stay there. The mind is a powerful thing and we are born with many tools that we all share, but using these tools in a particular way can help you achieve greatness. You have to be good at everything to be a complete driver and we will be showing our community what that takes, so they can bring these concepts and ideas into their own life to help them achieve their own greatness.
David added further by allowing fans the chance to learn through the modules each aspect provides, it gives them a foundation on which to evolve in the near future as and when they see fit and also allowing fans the chance to give feedback about their own experiences.
“We will be asking our Project Brabham community for their ideas in helping us to develop our modules within our Brabham-Digital portals, which will include other important areas within the team like marketing, PR etc.,” stated Brabham.
“This will be an ever evolving beast to develop and deliver the programmes and we will be looking for opportunities to take it to the next level. There will always be challenges along the way that will test us, but we are not afraid of these and we will collectively grow as a result.
“Project Brabham received a lot of interest when we launched because it provides the fans with a unique motorsport experience that is not currently in the market.
“We are offering fans, drivers and engineers the opportunity to be engaged with the Brabham Racing team that could inspire the next generation into the sport.
Read the second part of this three part feature here.