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All season long, international auto racing roared around with the special air of iron elegance that always attends it—bright cars and bold young men. But when all the flurry was over, there was the world champion: a familiar, stolid man with straight black hair parted down the middle and a seam of gold between his front teeth. Jack Brabham beat the kids, and easily—which is a refreshing change in sport. Brabham has been around racing for a long time; he came up in Australia in 1946. He has won the world title twice before, in 1959 and 1960. There is every indication that he expects to keep on winning, as did Juan Manuel Fangio, who won five times. This year Brabham won four of nine Formula I Grand Prix races and moonlighted in another division, Formula II, winning 10 out of 13 events.
All of this was just right. But Brabham brought even more to the year in racing. Most drivers can contribute only themselves. Brabham, who talks to engines, became the world's first driver to design, build and race his own cars—winning, in addition to the Grand Prix title, the manufacturer's trophy as well.
Brabham believes in driving just fast enough to win, and he is quietly gutty. Not long ago, when he was continually chopped off at the corners by a reckless rookie, Brabham finished the race and walked straight to the man's car. Instead of throwing a punch to the rookie's nose—which is accepted good form in such cases—he stuck out one big paw and said, "My name's Jack Brabham and I just wanted to meet you now because, the way you drive, you're not going to be around long."
Last July, before the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, local newspapers took special delight in calling Brabham "the grand old man of racing." Grand old man indeed. In a world packed full of special emphasis on youth, along comes a quiet, mature champion who gives more to the sport than anyone else. He is an unruffled, slightly paunchy 40 and, by being just that, he gives new hope to every middle-aged man in the world. Brabham is the leader of the young ones—and the special hero of a million Mittys.
This was a unique and thrilling year for Alpine ski racing. In the winter the usual big events were held in Europe and America, but it was a long four months later before the FIS world championships unfolded in Portillo, Chile. A group of reckless, fascinating French skiers dominated the sport all the way and soared to a height they had never before enjoyed. And the racer most responsible for France's overpowering success was a handsome, dashing daredevil named Jean-Claude Killy.
The year began with the Austrians still holding command of the slopes, as they had done for several years. The big question was whether the French men and women—who had been gaining strength since the 1964 Olympics—could at last gain control of the sport. The answer had to rest with Jean-Claude Killy, who had been recognized as the best racer in the world in 1965 by virtue of a sweeping list of victories in slalom and giant slalom. The FIS ratings showed Killy, a thin, wiry blond from Val-d'Is�re, listed as No. 1 in slalom and giant slalom and sixth in downhill, the glamour event. His combined ranking was far better than any of his challengers, but he lacked a final proof of his ability—a gold medal signifying a world title, a medal that can be won only in an Olympics or world championship. And, perhaps more important, he had never won a major downhill race.
During the winter Killy continued to dominate slalom competition in Europe and the U.S., but the talented Austrian, Karl Schranz, still managed to pace the downhill events. It was in Portillo that the French—and Killy—finally took charge. The downhill course at Portillo was a brutal one, featuring a couple of terrifying bumps and rolls—and the fastest course in downhill history. But it was just right for Jean-Claude Killy, and his victory in the downhill got the French off to a start that saw them capture six gold medals out of a possible eight, and 16 medals overall.
After his downhill triumph, Killy won enough points in the slalom and giant slalom to gain the combined championship, ski racing's most cherished medal. There is no likelihood that Jean-Claude Killy will soon be overshadowed.