Back at the Brick­yard

The most fa­mous Aus­tralian mo­tor­sport name re­turned to the most fa­mous motor rac­ing arena in the world as Matt Brab­ham made his Indy 500 de­but, mak­ing it three gen­er­a­tions of the Brab­ham fam­ily rac­ing at the ‘Brick­yard’.

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The 100th Indy 500 was an oc­ca­sion to cel­e­brate on so many lev­els. Not the least of which was the en­try of Matt Brab­ham. His mere pres­ence in the eld set records: he be­came only the third third-gen­er­a­tion driver to qual­ify for the race, the Brab­ham fam­ily name join­ing that of Vukovich and An­dretti.

The Brab­ham name’s as­so­ci­a­tion with Indy is sub­stan­tial and signicant. It was Sir Jack Brab­ham who fun­da­men­tally changed the face of the race when he made his de­but in 1961 with an adapted F1 Cooper T54. Brab­ham’s Cooper was the only rear-en­gined car in a eld of tra­di­tional front-en­gined Indy road­sters. While Brab­ham did not win, his car showed the way of the fu­ture: by 1969 there were no front-en­gined cars in the eld.

Sir Jack’s son, Ge­off, made 10 Indy 500 starts for a best of fourth place in 1983.

Ge­off was on hand to guide his son through his Indy de­but in an en­try put to­gether in Aus­tralia by Gold Coast mo­tor­sport en­tre­pre­neur Brett Mur­ray. PIRTEK Team Mur­ray made its race de­but a few weeks out from the 500 in the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis held on the Indy road cir­cuit (where Matt Brab­ham won in Indy Lights two years ear­lier), with Matt claim­ing a solid 16th on his Indycar race de­but.

The road course Indycar Se­ries round was one thing, but the ac­tual 4km speed­way was an­other mat­ter en­tirely. Just mak­ing it through the pro­longed and com­plex qual­i­fy­ing process was a ma­jor task in it­self – but it was one which the young­ster achieved with com­par­a­tive ease. A four-lap av­er­age speed of 226.389mph (364.338km/h) was enough to se­cure 26th slot on the 33-car eld.

Im­por­tantly, the 22-year-old rookie man­aged to stay out of trou­ble on a typ­i­cally event­ful day at the Brick­yard. Late in the race Brab­ham ran as high as 15th but fell back af­ter the last round of fuel stops to claim an even­tual 22nd.

“It is in­cred­i­ble to think that we nished this race,” he said after­wards. “Out there was a lit­tle sur­real, to be hon­est. It was an amazing ex­pe­ri­ence to be in the 100th Indy 500 race and now I can say that I have nished the Indianapolis 500 and am the third gen­er­a­tion of Brab­ham to do that. “The PIRTEK Team Mur­ray Chevro­let was good all day. Dur­ing some of the stints it de­vel­oped a vi­bra­tion. In the mid­dle of the race there, I was able to make up eight places which was a re­ally great feel­ing.

“I’m happy that we got through and that we were able to put on a good show. I can’t thank the guys from PIRTEK, the Chris Kyle Frog Foun­da­tion, Speed­cafe. com, all the other spon­sors, our tech­ni­cal part­ner KV Rac­ing Tech­nol­ogy and of course ‘Crusher’ (Brett Mur­ray) who has de­vel­oped this phe­nom­e­nal pro­gram that gave me the op­por­tu­nity to be in this race. “Let’s hope we can have an op­por­tu­nity to do more again.”

Mur­ray was both re­lived and de­lighted with the re­sult. His own com­mit­ment to the cam­paign was both fun­da­men­tal and sub­stan­tial, and he hopes now that Matt Brab­ham’s suc­cess­ful Indy de­but will open new doors for the young Aussie in Indycar rac­ing.

“Hope­fully plenty of peo­ple took notice of the team and what Matt achieved and that some­one will give him a shot.”

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