To mark 60 years since the first Australian Grand Prix was held at Albert Park in 1953, a plaque commissioned by the Australian Grand Prix Corporation and the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport was unveiled at a ceremony on Saturday at Albert Park.
The plaque, which pays homage to the rich heritage of motorsport at the famous Albert Park street circuit, will be permanently located at the start/finish line of the 1953 race, what we now know as turn three, opposite the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.
The plaque features imagery of the circuit, Bill Wilcox’s 1953 Ford V8 Special that took to the circuit in the first Grand Prix held in Albert Park, as well as the 2013 Red Bull Racing RB9 that was driven by Mark Webber in 2013. Also featured are two of the most significant figures in motorsport history - Sir Jack Brabham AO OBE (World Champion in 1959, 1960 and 1966) and Alan Jones MBE, Australia’s second World Champion in 1980.
Both men, who were present for the unveil, have strong links to that original race at Albert Park – Sir Jack took part in practice but was unable to race after mechanical failure, while Alan’s father Stan started from the front row, led the race and set fastest lap before retiring shortly before the finish.
The names Brabham and Jones have become synonymous with Australian motorsport and, to this day, their influence on the sport continues to resonate amongst drivers and fans alike. The plaque immortalises the remarkable careers and phenomenal achievements made by both gentlemen.
“We are recognising not only the rich history behind the Albert Park circuit but also two absolute icons of Australian motor racing,” said Ronald J. Walker AC CBE, Chairman of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation.
“It is a fitting tribute to their extraordinary contribution to Australian sport,” he added.
Despite six decades passing since the race in 1953, Sir Jack Brabham still has fond memories of the event.
“Albert Park will forever be an incredibly special place to me so it’s truly pleasing to know that I will eternally be a part of this spectacular circuit,” Brabham beamed.
Equally thrilled about the gesture was Jones, who expressed his gratitude for the tribute to the famous circuit.
“My thanks goes out to the Australian Grand Prix Corporation and the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport, it really is an amazing acknowledgment for this world famous venue,” said Jones.
President of the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport, Andrew Papadopoulos, attended the unveiling ceremony to pay tribute to the achievements of Sir Jack Brabham and Alan Jones.
“Sir Jack Brabham and Alan Jones’s accomplishments have cemented them as Australian sporting royalty. Their place amongst our nation’s illustrious athletes from all disciplines will rarely be surpassed,” said Papadopoulos.
“I’m genuinely delighted to see the heritage of motorsport in Albert Park being celebrated in this way,” he said.
The commemorative plaque, measuring almost a meter square, was created by Melbourne periodontist, Dr Ross Bastiaan, who said the plaque reflected the rich history of motorsport at Albert Park.
“How lucky we are as a country to have so many sporting memories live within such an iconic circuit,” said Dr Bastiaan.
“The opportunity to shape this history into something tangible really was a privilege and I only hope that I have done these great men justice,” he added.
Dr Bastiaan, an expert in historic plaques, has created and installed over 200 Australian military history plaques in over 20 countries. His work can also be found at some of Victoria’s most famous landmarks including the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Hisense Arena as well as along the Great Ocean Road.