PEOPLE: JABBY CROMBAC
Name: Jabby Crombac
Gerard Crombac is the most experienced of all the Formula 1 journalists, having attended most of the Grands Prix since the World Championship began in 1950, and is universally recognized in the F1 paddock by his nickname "Jabby".
Born into a prosperous Swiss family, which owned department stores in Switzerland, Crombac was intended to work in the cloth trade. He had a passion for motor racing from an early age and this soon got him into trouble when he lost his job, having been recognized by his employer in a photograph in a local newspaper helping out at a race track as a mechanic when he should have been somewhere else...
In the summer of 1949 Jabby hitchhiked to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix. While he was in England he met Gregor Grant, who was running the Light Car magazine. Crombac agreed to supply Grant with European coverage while working as a mechanic with French driver Raymond Sommer. He was thus able to attend the major European events without having to pay his own way. This arrangement continued until Sommer was killed in the autumn of 1950. That year Grant decided to launch a new publishing venture called Autosport, a weekly racing magazine. It was a great success and, with Crombac reporting at events around Europe, it became popular with the British racing public.
By 1954 Jabby had decided that France could use a similar magazine and so launched Sport Auto. This became one of the most important racing publications in France and funded Jabby's constant travels from race to race. While working as a reporter Crombac was also involved in other aspects of the sport in those early days: he worked as a steward at races and was even an FIA delegate for a club which could not afford to send a representative to Paris for the big meetings.
He was a close friend of many of the drivers in the 1960s, shared an apartment in Paris with Jim Clark and still owns one of Clark's road cars.
In the 1970s, as the sport grew, so did Crombac's reputation and he eventually sold Sport Auto to a large publishing house. By the early 1980s Crombac was so well-established as a Formula 1 expert that he was consulted by Honda when it decided it wanted to enter F1 as an engine-manufacturer.
Crombac remained an active F1 journalist until 2003, spending his time between races in indulging another of his passions - flying light aircraft.
He died in 2005.