Banbury, Oxfordshire, UK - Thursday 2 July, 2015
Matt Brabham completes first IndyCar test
Matt Brabham has taken his first significant step towards securing a regular Verizon IndyCar Series seat with an official test at Iowa Speedway with Andretti Autosport.
Joining him at the test was fellow third generation racer and regular driver of the #27 Snapple Honda-powered IndyCar, Marco Andretti.
The program saw 21-year-old Brabham get up to speed quickly, completing entire laps of the oval at full throttle on just his second run.
He also cycled through an aerodynamic program to assist the Andretti Autosport team ahead of the Iowa Corn 300 at the Rusty Wallace-designed facility on July 17-18.
The team was impressed with the feedback they were getting from the grandson of Sir Jack Brabham.
Under IndyCar testing rules, Brabham tested as a ‘current Indy Lights driver’ at the high-speed ⅞ mile (1.4km) tri-oval 30 miles (48km) east of the capital, Des Moines. He has a 17 race career in Indy Lights with Andretti Autosport and is a two-time Mazda Road to Indy program Champion in other categories.
Having the opportunity to complete an official test is something Brabham sees as a great step forward and he learnt much from the day.
"I had an absolute blast today, I have wanted to drive an INDYCAR for so long now and to finally get a chance was awesome. A big thank you to all the Andretti crew, they really helped me a lot and made me feel comfortable straight away,” said Brabham.
"Driving an IndyCar in anger for the first time was definitely different to what I am used to, the speed, power and downforce were a big jump. But it did not take me too long and I was up to speed quickly and started to work through the program the team wanted to do.
"It was great working with Marco and drawing off his experience, a short oval is not the easiest place to drive for the first time in one of these cars. But with his and the teams’ help it all came together pretty quickly for me.”
The number of people involved in the test was something that stood out for Brabham - aside from Andretti Autosport team members, a number of representatives from engine supplier, Honda and tire supplier, Firestone were on hand as well.
“There were a lot more people around me than I normally have, a couple of engineers, all the crew and technicians from Honda and Firestone. There was a swarm of activity every time I came into the pits, it was really a cool experience and one I hope to do again soon."
It isn’t the first time that he has been behind the wheel of an IndyCar, however, having conducted a filming day in April for an Andretti Autosport sponsor and also conducted two-seater rides at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the lead up to the Indianapolis 500.
Testing with Andretti Autosport continues a rare fusion between two of the world’s great racing families - the Brabhams and Andrettis - and continues the Brabham family association with Honda that stretches back to 1964. Matt’s Grandfather, Sir Jack started his association with the company which led to him dominating the 1966 Formula 2 Championship in a Honda-powered car.
Sir Jack changed the technical direction of IndyCar racing at the Indy 500 some 54 years ago when he brought the first rear-engined car to the Speedway - securing a best finish of ninth from his four starts. Matt's father, Geoff finished fourth in the greatest spectacle in racing.
It is the aim of Brabham and his team to secure a program to compete in the 2016 Indianapolis 500 that, in the 100th race will commemorate the 55th anniversary of Sir Jack’s historic maiden foray to America. Should he achieve this, Matt would become just the third third generation driver to do so - standing alongside the Andrettis with this honour.
The test rounds off a busy - and diverse month - for the two time Mazda Road to Indy Series Champion, having completed a test session for David Gilliland Racing in an asphalt Late Model and taking to the skies of Toronto in a Stadium Super Truck while attending the event as a driver coach.