Legend remembered

Bob Ilich, who was a mechanic working for Jack Brabham during 1966-67, at the museum’s tribute corner for the racing legend. Picture: Marie Nirme www.communitypix.com.au d420144
Bob Ilich, who was a mechanic working for Jack Brabham during 1966-67, at the museum’s tribute corner for the racing legend. Picture: Marie Nirme www.communitypix.com.au d420144

But in 1957, he was still building a name for himself among the motor-racing community throughout Australia.

That year, a 16-year-old Bob Ilich was living in South Perth working as an apprentice mechanic and idolising Australia’s latest motor racing phenomenon ” Jack Brabham.

Ilich would later become the engine mechanic for Brabham’s F1 team in 1966 and 1967.

When the Australian Grand Prix came to Caversham Circuit on March 4, 1957, Ilich saw Brabham finish third in his Cooper Climax. Back then, it was common for the Caversham races to attract crowds of 20,000 to 30,000.

Little did Ilich know that nine years later he would be a vital part of the Jack Brabham team that won the 1966 Formula 1 World Championship.

‘(After the race), I asked my father if we could build a racing car and he replied: ‘That’s too hard. Finish your studies, go to England and buy yourself a thoroughbred (car)’,’ Ilich said.

‘Brabham came back in 1962 with the Brabham Repco car and that’s when I decided that this is what I want to do.’

Ilich landed a job at Jack Brabham Conversions shortly after arriving in England, but he was also working nightshifts assembling racing cars for Motor Racing Developments.

‘Jack’s Formula 1 team was next door to the factory where we were building these race cars and eventually we got to know the blokes inside,’ he said.

Through a bit of luck, Ilich became part of the 1966 F1 team to work on the Repco Brabham three-litre V8 engines.

‘After a period of time, my main job was rebuilding the Repco engines after every race meeting, plus the further development and tuning,’ he said.

‘It was a fantastic period of my life,’ Ilich said.

‘He’s (Brabham) a great bloke; it was an honour and a privilege to work with him, know him ” we stayed friends and kept in touch till now and I will miss him very much.’