The arrival of a trio of Brabham racing simulators is like historical and modern universes colliding to put seats at the center of history. Australian David Brabham is the son of Jack Brabham. Jack was a superb Formula 1 racer who created an eponymous team that provided the sport a few legendary cars and innovations. David was a superb sports car racer with series championships in Australia, Britain, Japan, and the U.S. to go with one overall and two class victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Lately, David is known for launching Brabham Automotive and its first product, the BT62. David raced with Darren Turner at Aston Martin, the two taking one of those Le Mans class wins in 2007, and Turner spent part of his retirement launching Base Performance Simulators, a racing sim builder not far from the Silverstone Circuit.
Voila, that’s how we get three racing sims that celebrate classic Brabham F1 cars, the 1966 BT19, the 1978 BT46B Fan Car, and the 1983 BT52.
The differences in each are the liveries, the respective sim rig painted to match the car it calls back to. Every sim is powered by a “High specification gaming computer” sending Assetto Corsa graphics to a 49-inch curved Samsung screen. Each sim comes loaded with every track and vehicle used in the full-sized sims at Base Performance headquarters. The sim controls are a Precision Sim GPX wheel, Simucube steering motor, and two-pedal adjustable carbon fiber pedal box. Those are hooked up to a powdercoated steel frame supporting a carbon fiber racing seat. Sounds are piped through a Cambridge Audio speaker system or through included Sennheiser headphones.
To the sims:
The BT19 hearkens to the car that carried Jack Brabham to his third and final F1 Driver’s World Championship, he being the only person to achieve the feat in a car of his own team’s making. The green and gold BT19, powered by an Australian Repco 3.0-liter eight-cylinder engine, won four of that year’s nine F1 races, and took both the Driver’s and Constructor’s Championships.
The BT46B Fan Car sim celebrates an F1 entry designed by Gordon Murray, who resurrected the fan idea for his new supercar, the GMA T.50. Murray borrowed the suction idea from a previous Chaparral race car as a way to outdo the conquering Lotus ground effects cars of the time, one driven by Mario Andretti. Murray turned his trick so well that at the 1978 Swedish Grand Prix, Brabham team owner Bernie Ecclestone asked drivers Niki Lauda and John Watson to underdrive before the race. The BT46B pelted the competition, perhaps literally, Andretti complaining that the fan threw up rocks at the drivers behind. Ecclestone removed the controversial red, white, and blue BT46B from competition after that single outing.
The BT52 sim recalls the car that delivered Nelson Piquet his second Driver’s Championship at the height of the turbo era. The blue and white racer, also designed by Murray in little more than six weeks, was powered by a 1.5-liter BMW four-cylinder estimated to have made more than 1,200 horsepower in qualifying, trimmed to 850 hp for the race.
Each sim starts at £24,990 ($33,366 U.S.) including VAT, before options or customization. That’s about half the price of the locally made and thoroughly outstanding CXC Motion Pro II, but the Brabham doesn’t include any of the motion controllers built into the CXC. Base Performance will only deliver and install in the UK, though, so add a surcharge to that for delivery anywhere else. Nostalgia isn’t cheap.