INDYCAR News and Notes – Dec. 4, 2015
1. Brabham Seeks to Become Third Third-Generation Indy 500 Driver
2. Hinchcliffe Is a Man of Simple Tastes
3. Trio of Mazda Road to Indy Seats Filled
4. Of Note
1. Brabham Seeks to Become Third Third-Generation Indy 500 Driver: Matt Brabham wants to follow in rarely tracked footsteps and become just the third driver to be a third-generation participant in the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. And he wants to do it in the 100th Running of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
Brabham, 21, was announced Dec. 4 in his native Australia to drive the PIRTEK Team Murray entry in both 2016 races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway – the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 14 and the Indianapolis 500 on May 29. If he successfully qualifies for the “500,” the Brabham name will join that of Vukovich and Andretti as the only families to boast of three generations to compete.
Matt’s grandfather, Sir Jack Brabham, was a Formula One legend who ushered in the use of rear-engine cars at Indianapolis Motor Speedway when he drove the Cooper Climax to a ninth-place finish in the 1961 Indianapolis 500. To honor his grandfather, Matt will drive car No. 61.
Matt’s father, Geoff, was a 10-time Indy 500 starter. Matt has raced the past four years in the Mazda Road to Indy development ladder, winning the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda in 2012 and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires in 2013. He drove in 17 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires races over the past two seasons, winning on the IMS road course and finishing second on the oval in 2014.
“There is no doubt that this is a dream come true,” said Matt. “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.”
The team is operated by Brett “Crusher” Murray, an Australian motorsports promoter who helped make the Indy car race on the streets of Surfers Paradise an overwhelming success for nearly two decades. PIRTEK, a fluid transfer solution specialist based in Australia, will be the primary sponsor as the company looks to relaunch its franchise network in the United States in 2016.
Team Murray will partner with full-time Verizon IndyCar Series team KV Racing Technology, whose owners include Australian Kevin Kalkhoven and retired Indy car driver Jimmy Vasser.
“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,” Murray said. “So that made KV Racing the natural choice for us because of my long-term personal and professional relationships with Kevin and Jimmy.”
Team Murray is scheduled to announce additional sponsorship and charitable initiatives at its United States launch during the PRI Motorsports Trade Show in Indianapolis from Dec. 10-12.
“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 media companies. “I made a promise to Sir Jack before he passed away (in May 2014) that I would do what I could to help Matt’s career.”
2. Hinchcliffe Is a Man of Simple Tastes: Verizon IndyCar Series driver James Hinchcliffe is honorary chairman for the third annual rendition of Rev, the food-tasting fundraiser that kicks off month of May activities at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Meeting this week with celebrity chef Vic “Vegas” Moea, Hinchcliffe made it known what he would like included in his driver-inspired cuisine served at the must-attend event on May 7. Among the ingredients are meatloaf, ketchup and Hinchtown Hammerdown beer.
Read more about what Moea decided to create at: http://blog.indycar.com/index.
Methodist Health Foundation is the primary benefactor of Rev. IU Health Methodist Hospital was where Hinchcliffe was rushed when he suffered life-threatening injuries May 18 in a crash during practice for the Indianapolis 500. Hinchcliffe’s expert care and “Race to Recovery” are well chronicled at https://traumapitcrew.org/.
3. Trio of Mazda Road to Indy Seats Filled: Recent announcements added a driver to each of the three Mazda Road to Indy development series for 2016. MRTI is the officially sanctioned stepladder program for drivers and teams aspiring to compete in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
Zach Veach, a three-time Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires race winner, will join Belardi Auto Racing’s Lights program. Veach drove in Indy Lights in 2013 and 2014 has been working to secure a Verizon IndyCar Series ride in 2015.
“I’m very thankful for this opportunity that (team principal) Brian Belardi has given me,” said Veach, the Stockdale, Ohio, native, who turns 21 on Dec. 9 and has competed at all three MRTI levels dating to 2010. “After racing against his team for so many years, I’ve always had a ton of respect for him, his crew and, of course, his cars. Belardi Auto Racing competes to win championships and I would love to give them their second Indy Lights title. … We will be doing everything possible to try to get funding together for an entire season, so we can put a championship fight in place.”
Jake Parsons, a 20 year-old native of Melbourne, Australia, will join Juncos Racing’s Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires lineup alongside American Will Owen and Argentina’s Nicholas Depero for the reigning Pro Mazda team champion.
British teenager Jordan Cane will continue his development with Team Pelfrey by competing in the 2016 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, as the team announced a two-year extension with the 14-year-old who scored seven wins with Team Pelfrey in F1600 this year despite missing six races.
4. Of Note: Michael Montri has been named the new general manager of the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, which will be held June 3-5, 2016. Building on his motorsports and automotive experience of nearly 20 years with the Penske companies, Montri will oversee the day-to-day operations of the grand prix. A University of Michigan graduate, Montri joined the Penske organization as a marketing and public relations intern when the company owned and operated Michigan International Speedway. He worked in motorsports for several years and served as director of corporate sales for North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, N.C., for two years. Since 2002, Montri has worked with Penske Automotive Group (PAG), most recently as vice president of fleet operations for Penske Car Rental and as vice president of procurement for PAG. … Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has named Piers Phillips as its new general manager. Phillips brings a wealth of racing experience to the team. Most recently, the Northampton, England, native was team manager/technical director for Brabham Racing. Before that, his 15-year racing career included positions in both management and engineering at Impact Engineering Solutions, Strakka Racing, SEAT Sport UK and Fred Goddard F3.