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Celebrating the history of the Formula 1® Australian Grand Prix trophy

24/03/22

The Sir Jack Brabham Trophy.

Every picture tells a story, so the saying tells us … but every picture of the winner of the Australian Grand Prix hoisting the spoils of victory since 1996 tells the same story – that of a trophy inspired by a giant of Australia's Formula 1® past, and one the sport's current drivers can't wait to get their hands on.

The Sir Jack Brabham Trophy, so named after the passing of the Australian three-time Formula 1® champion in 2014, is awarded to the winning constructor and has stood the test of time over Melbourne's near three-decade tenure as a Formula 1® city. Ironic then, that the makers of the silverware were given next to no time to create it …

Flynn Silver, located an hour or so north-west of Melbourne in Kyneton, was a well-established family business back when it was announced the Australian Grand Prix would be leaving South Australia for Victoria back in 1993. Dan Flynn, son of the man who began the business a generation previously, takes up the story.

"We had been doing work with (then Victorian premier) Jeff Kennett, and a trophy was discussed when Melbourne first won the contract in late 1993," Dan says.

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"But nothing came of it until about six weeks before the (1996) event, when we heard from the office of (Australian Grand Prix chairman) Ron Walker asking us if they could see us the next morning with our designs ...

"I remember quickly excusing myself at home to go to the local pub with pencil and paper, and stayed there until I nutted something out! But I think it had been in the back of my head, ticking over what we would do as we'd never done a trophy before then."

What you’ll see today are two trophies handed out on Grand Prix weekend with the designs having barely changed from Dan's pub drawings back in 1996. The constructors trophy named after the legendary and the winner’s trophy inspired by the steering wheel of Sir Jack Brabham's 1956 Cooper-Climax raced at Albert Park in the non-championship era of the Australian Grand Prix.

While Dan wanted to honour one of Australian motorsport's greatest achievers, he borrowed a cue from another sport entirely.

"Ron Walker didn't want a cup, and I knew I didn't want to do a cup," he says.

"I thought of the ladies' singles trophy at Wimbledon (the Venus Rosewater Dish), that beautiful embossed tray and how that looks."

Dan and brother John delivered – pretty quickly, mind you – on that first trophy for 1996, while the trophies for the winning driver and constructor you'll see at Albert Park this April take 120 hours to make, and follow a tried and tested process.

"We start on it before Christmas," Dan explains.

"We have a fantastic furniture maker in Kyneton who does the lamination of the wheel, we have a yacht maker in Moorabbin who does the carbon fibre on the back of it, and we have a firm who will spin the dishes for us.

"John does all the casting and the fitting, he's the technical person who pulls it all together. It's a team effort and the firms we use are all at the top of their games."

The trophy is unique, tells a story and has endured – and for those reasons (and countless others), it's become one of the most coveted in the sport.

"I remember hearing Jenson Button being interviewed before the race one year about wanting to win, and he said 'what we all want to win is that trophy'," Dan says.

"For all the drivers … it's touched a nerve with them."

Whoever earns the right to take home the trophy in 2022, watch their level of exertion on the Albert Park podium; the winner’s trophy weighs in excess of eight kilograms. A weighty achievement deserves a trophy that feels the part as much as looks it, Dan reckons.

"We know that the life of the trophy is, realistically, 5-10 seconds of media, so it has to really 'perform' in that moment," he adds.

"I remember, even as I was coming up with designs that night all those years ago in the pub, that it can have a lovely back story, but it's got to sparkle. That's why I wanted it to be something that had weight to it, a presence.

"It's been quite rewarding for us. I have a nice note from Daimler, Mercedes, saying after they'd reordered a trophy that it was 'nice to see there are still true craftsmen who make unique hand-made pieces and value quality materials."

(Editors note: The constructors' trophy handed out at the Formula 1® Australian Grand Prix is named after Sir Jack Brabham, with the winner's trophy inspired by the steering wheel of the legendary driver.)

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