Matthew Brabham, the grandson of three-time F1 world champion, Sir Jack, will compete at the 100th running of the famed Indianapolis 500 in what is a true Australian effort.
Only two families can claim to have had three generations race at the Indianapolis 500, Vukovich and Andretti.
Now Matthew Brabham will join that list in the 100th running of the Greatest Spectacle in racing next May. Following in the footsteps of his father Geoff and arguably Australia’s greatest motor racing driver, the late Sir Jack, who turned the Brickyard on its head in 1961 when he contested the race in the first rear-engined car.
Having Brabham on the grid for what is regarded as the largest attended annual sporting event on the planet is the brainchild of motor sports identity Brett “Crusher” Murray and Fluid Transfer Solutions company Pirtek and its International Executive Director Glenn Duncan.
Brabham has plenty of experience of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, including a narrow finish in 2014 in the Indy lights race.
Part of his preparation to make the 33-car field will be a detailed testing programme, plus he will contest the road course race at Indy in early May. Pirtek Team Murray will make further partner announcements in the coming days and will unveil the look of the car in Indianapolis at the end of next week.
FROM THE YARD OF BRICKS:
GLENN DUNCAN - EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL - PIRTEK USA
“We have been working hard on getting all our systems in place for a well-structured expansion in the US market and a partnership with Team Murray and Matt Brabham provides a perfect platform for us to showcase the value of our franchise network to America while giving us enormous leveraging opportunities globally,” said Duncan.
“The Brabham name is synonymous with success and we are determined to provide Matt with the opportunity to extend his career and be successful in the top ranks of IndyCar.
“The Brabham and PIRTEK names both have a long and proud history. Matt and PIRTEK USA are embarking on an exciting new adventure in the next stage of their development in North America and it is great that we will be doing some of that together.
“There is no doubt that the 100th running of the Indy 500 is going to be one of the biggest days ever in world sports and we are excited to be along for the ride.
“There is a terrific program planned with our franchisees, customers and the broader community around this investment and we are excited about the announcements we have to make in coming months.”
MATT BRABHAM - PIRTEK TEAM MURRAY - DRIVER:
“There is no doubt that this is a dream come true,” said Matt Brabham.
“I cannot thank ‘Crusher’ enough for his belief and Glenn Duncan and PIRTEK for their faith and financial commitment.
“To have the support of a fantastic company like PIRTEK for my first Indy 500 really is amazing.
“PIRTEK has some serious plans for their business in North America and I look forward to working with them to help them achieve their goals.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us, but it is nice to get this plan in place this far out. We now have the job of creating a first class experience on and off the track for everyone involved.
“KV Racing Technology also have a first class program which has already made me feel extremely welcome. Kevin (Kalkhoven) is obviously extremely successful in business and what Jimmy (Vasser) doesn’t know about open-wheel racing is not worth knowing. Team Manager Steve Moore has also been enormously accommodating and helped us wherever he can.
“My mum and dad are over the moon with the position we are in and I am sure my Grandfather is looking down on us with a smile and can’t wait for May 29 to roll around.
“I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity.”
BRETT ‘CRUSHER’ MURRAY - PIRTEK TEAM MURRAY - OWNER:
“I have had a dream of having my own car in the Indy 500 since before Matt was born and Matt has had a dream of being a starter in the 500 since he was old enough to get behind the wheel,” said Murray, who heads up the BAM Group of companies.
“I have been extremely fortunate to have had PIRTEK as a client and be a part of the PIRTEK ‘family’ for more than 15 years and I could not think of any better people to be standing in pit lane beside us at next year’s 100th Indy 500.
“I guess a different kind of passion from Matt and I created a common dream. With the help of PIRTEK, we now have an opportunity to make that a reality - and in the 100th year of the world’s greatest race.
“I made a promise to Sir Jack (Brabham) before he passed away that I would do what I could to help Matt’s career.
“Glenn (Duncan) has known about my Indy 500 dream for a long time and when I told him I was determined to make the show in 2016 and what I thought our program could do for PIRTEK in the US market - and right around the world - coupled with the opportunities it would create for Matt, he put up his hand. And for that we will be forever grateful.
“If you are going to enter into such a program you need to do it with people you trust and who share a similar passion. So that made KV Racing the natural choice for us because of my long-term personal and professional relationships with Kevin (Kalkhoven) and Jimmy (Vasser).
“Team Manager Steve Moore and I have also know each other for some time and the energy he has put into helping me bring this together has been nothing short of first class.
“It’s going to be one hell of a journey.”
KEVIN KALKHOVEN - CO-OWNER - KV RACING TECHNOLOGY:
“Lots of people talk about ‘one day’ having an entry in the Indianapolis 500, but when ‘Crusher’ came to me and showed me his plans I was never in any doubt that he would make it happen,” said Kalkhoven.
“What a wonderful thing to have an Australian-owned team being driven by only the third third-generation driver, a Brabham no less, and in the 100th running of the world’s greatest race!
“Matt is a terrific young man, who has a great racing pedigree, but who is also very talented and who has a single-minded desire to be successful in the sport.
“‘Crusher’ is an amazing character who is one of the hardest working and most passionate people I have met in racing who has one of greatest relationship networks I have seen. I never doubted that he would get the deal done and make it one hell of a program for his partners.
“What he has planned and what he will roll out over the coming months is incredibly impressive.
“Jimmy (Vasser) and I have been friends of ‘Crusher’ for many years and we are delighted to be working with him to provide the equipment needed for Matt to showcase his undoubted ability on this wonderful stage and to be competitive in what will be an incredibly special event.”
GEOFF BRABHAM - 10 TIME INDY 500 STARTER; 4 TIME IMSA CHAMPION:
“I don’t think I have ever seen as much time, effort or determination put into something in my life,” said Geoff Brabham.
“When ‘Crusher’ showed me the tools he had built to make this program a reality, I simply could not believe it. Every minor detail had been thought through. It was all built around giving Matt the opportunity to show his talent on the Indianapolis 500 stage, which I am absolutely confident he can do.
“‘Crusher’ has his own dream of having his own car in the Indy 500 and for him to include Matt and the rest of the Brabham family on that journey is something else. Dad (Sir Jack) and ‘Crusher’ had a special friendship considering their age difference and it’s just a pity he won’t be here to share this with us.
“The Indianapolis 500 is such an amazing event which you just can’t explain to someone if they have not experienced it - on or off the track.
“The opportunity ‘Crusher’, PIRTEK and all of the other sponsors have created for Matt is tremendous. He understands the work that has gone into this and the opportunity presented and he will do everything needed to put his best foot forward.”