In the 1960s, Brabham was the world's largest manufacturer of open-wheel racing cars for sale to customer teams; by 1970 it had built more than 500 cars. During this period, teams using Brabham cars won championships in Formula Two and Formula Three. Brabham cars also competed in the Indianapolis 500 and in Formula 5000 racing. In the 1970s and 1980s, Brabham introduced such innovations as in-race refuelling, carbon brakes, and hydropneumatic suspension. Its unique Gordon Murray designed "fan car" won its only race before being withdrawn.
The team won two more Formula One Drivers' Championships in the 1980s with Brazilian Nelson Piquet. He won his first championship in 1981 in the Ground effects BT49-Ford, and became the first to win a Drivers' Championship with a turbocharged car, in 1983. In 1983 the Brabham BT52, driven by Piquet and Italian Riccardo Patrese, was powered by the BMW M12 straight-4 engine, and powered Brabham to four of the team's 35 Grand Prix victories.
British businessman Bernie Ecclestone owned Brabham during most of the 1970s and 1980s, and later became responsible for administering the commercial aspects of Formula One. Ecclestone sold the team in 1988. Its last owner was the Middlebridge Group, a Japanese engineering firm. Midway through the 1992 season, the team collapsed financially as Middlebridge was unable to make repayments against loans provided by Landhurst Leasing. The case was investigated by the United Kingdom Serious Fraud Office. In 2009, an unsuccessful attempt was made by a German organisation to enter the 2010 Formula One season using the Brabham name.
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