It was 1968 when the Goodyear Tire company encouraged Jack Brabham to return to Indianapolis, while his Formula 1 team-mate that year – the excellent Austrian star Jochen Rindt – was intrigued by the prize money on offer there. Indianapolis racing ruled that fuel tanks had to be sheathed in metal panelling, and so Ron Tauranac penned a brand-new design which – after years of loyalty to the multi-tubular spaceframe school of chassis design – would emerge as the first stressed-skin monocoque-chassised Brabham racing car.
The Australian Repco engine company developed a special 4.2-litre version of the latest 4-cam 32-valve V8 engine, and in the BT25 this power unit was slung in a tubular engine-bay frame. Jochen Rindt and the veteran American driver Masten Gregory were listed to drive two Repco Brabham BT25 cars in the 1968 Indy ‘500’, but only Rindt would qualify, 16th fastest on the traditionally 33-strong starting grid, having averaged 164.144mph for his four-lap qualifying run. Sadly, after only five race laps – out of the scheduled 200 – Jochen was forced to retire due to piston failure.
In 1969 the tiny British-based team returned to Indy with two developed BT25 cars to be driven in the ‘500’ by Jack Brabham himself and Peter Revson. The former journeyman American racing driver – one of the heirs to the Revlon cosmetics empire – really made a giant leap forward in reputational terms by starting the Speedway classic 33rd and last on the grid, and finishing a fine fifth overall. Within weeks ‘Revviue’ then drove in the United States Automobile Club ‘Indycar’ road races at Indianapolis Raceway Park, and won one outright for the the BT25, and finished third in the other. In the ‘500’ ‘Black Jack’s BT25 had qualified 29th at 163.875mph but retired after 58 laps with ignition problems.
Today the Rofgo Collection’s magnificent Repco Brabham BT25 – chassis ‘BT25/2’ – survives as the car which was never blown apart, and the car which Jack Brabham, John Martin and Bill Simpson all campaigned on the USAC Indycar scene from 1968 into the early 1970s.