Matt Brabham is continuing a family tradition at Indy

Third-generation racer Matt Brabham is continuing a family tradition at Indianapolis this year.

Matt Brabham is continuing a family tradition at Indy
Matt Brabham, Team Murray Chevrolet
Matt Brabham, Team Murray Chevrolet
Matt Brabham and father, Geoff Brabham
Sir Jack Brabham
Matt Brabham, Team Murray Chevrolet
Matt Brabham, Team Murray Chevrolet
Matt Brabham, Team Murray Chevrolet
Matt Brabham, Team Murray Chevrolet
The Pagoda
Matt Brabham, PIRTEK Team Murray Chevrolet

His father Geoff started ten Indy 500s, finishing as high as fourth in 1984. His grandfather started the race on four occasions, placing ninth on his debut in 1961. That drive in the Cooper started the rear-engined revolution at IMS, but he remains best known for his Formula 1 exploits.

Sir Jack, who died two years ago today, was a three-time World Champion, winning 14 of his 126 grands prix, and starting 126 Grand Prix. But 22-year-old Matt isn't feeling any added pressure due to his surname.

"No, not at all," he told Motorsport.com "I think being a third-generation racer here is fantastic and I'm very honored. I think, at the end of the day, my family name has never put extra pressure on me. If anything, it's been more of a relief because everyone in my family has been through racing and understands the pressures that go with it. I think it's more of a support base than anything."

Learning curve

The Brabham name first showed up at Indy for the 45th running of this iconic event and Matt gets the once in a lifetime opportunity to make his debut in the 100th running. So what was it like for the young Brabham to take the Pirtek Team Murray KV Racing DW12-Chevrolet around IMS for the first time?

"It was incredible," he said. "It's really that special feeling where you have to pinch yourself – is this real or not? I definitely enjoyed it. I mean, the speeds weren't too surprising. It didn't feel like 220mph when I first got out there but when I started getting around other cars, then I started to get a sense of the speed. My eyes opened a little bit. But no, it felt quite normal and comfortable and I look forward to doing some more."

Around the paddock, the Australian-American has found help with drivers and ex-drivers more than willing to help advise the rookie. But he can also look to his father for guidance ahead of this May's 500.

"Obviously, Dad's with me every step of the way and we're always talking about things at the end of the day. He's keeping a close eye on me to see if there's anything I can improve on. And within my team, we got Sebastien Bourdais, who is obviously a super experienced guy and he's been helping out. And there's a lot of old veterans around like Dario (Franchitti). If you can lean on them, it's always a big help. They're always very welcoming."

Still some work to do

With 12 hours of practice in the books, the #61 – in honor of his family's debut year at the Brickyard – has completed 175 laps, a number eclipsed by just two other cars. 

"I think, in clean air, we're quite quick," he said of their performance which has resulted in a fastest lap of 223.306mph. "We've done a lot of laps on our own and we've covered that side it. I feel super strong towards at least a top ten running on our own.

"But I think the things I need to work on and we need to work on as a team is running in traffic and dealing with that. I haven't got too many laps running behind the big train of cars. I think that's obviously one of the most important things to do – to learn how the car reacts around other cars. The aero wash and how to improve it in a race mode setting."

Brabham was also responsible for one of Wednesday's yellow flags, needing a tow back to the pit lane. He explained to Motorsport.com that he actually ran out of fuel. "The fuel alarm, when it comes on, you got to pit straight away and it came on right past pit entry."

Pursuing Rookie of the Year honors

As for any set goals Matt may have going into next Sunday, ROTY is something near the forefront of his mind.

"I think it's hard to get too caught up in results and where you finish," he said. "I'm just trying to be open-minded and whatever happens, happens. But I think a realistic goal and something I'd be very happy with leaving the race would be ROTY. So we're working towards that."

It won't be easy with four other very capable rookies also in the field, headlined by Max Chilton (two full seasons in F1, GP2 race winner) and Alexander Rossi (ex-F1 driver, GP2/GP3 race winner). Also in this year's class are Spencer Pigot (2015 Indy Lights/2014 Pro Mazda champion) and Matt's teammate Stefan Wilson (Indy Lights race winner).

Brabham himself is a USF2000 and Pro Mazda champion, and also won the 2014 Indy Lights race at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. He's got the name and now he's got the chance to show what he can do on the world's biggest motorsports stage.

shares
comments
Thursday practice update: Hunter-Reay blows up, Chaves remains P1

Previous article

Thursday practice update: Hunter-Reay blows up, Chaves remains P1

Next article

Chaves leads Honda quartet at the conclusion of Thursday practice

Chaves leads Honda quartet at the conclusion of Thursday practice
Load comments

About this article

Series IndyCar
Event Indy 500
Location Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Drivers Matt Brabham
Teams Team Murray
Author Nick DeGroot
How good is Palou and is he Dixon’s strongest title rival? Prime

How good is Palou and is he Dixon’s strongest title rival?

Last Sunday, Alex Palou delivered his first IndyCar victory on his Chip Ganassi Racing debut. Is the young Spaniard going to become his legendary teammate Scott Dixon’s biggest title threat? David Malsher-Lopez reports.

Preview: Why IndyCar in 2021 is too close to call Prime

Preview: Why IndyCar in 2021 is too close to call

The fight for supremacy in the NTT IndyCar Series will be as intense as ever. David Malsher-Lopez is your guide to the main contenders and six intriguing sub-plots.

IndyCar
Apr 15, 2021
Is Arrow McLaren SP ready for IndyCar’s title fight? Prime

Is Arrow McLaren SP ready for IndyCar’s title fight?

With Patricio O'Ward and Felix Rosenqvist leading its line-up, 2021 could be the year Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet joins the IndyCar elite, writes David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Feb 21, 2021
Dale Coyne picks the Top 10 drivers in his giant-slaying team Prime

Dale Coyne picks the Top 10 drivers in his giant-slaying team

Over 37 seasons, Dale Coyne has run no fewer than 80 Indy car drivers – including himself! Ahead of his first season running Romain Grosjean, we asked Coyne to pick the best 10 drivers ever to compete for him. By David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Feb 10, 2021
Why enigmatic Marco Andretti will be missed Prime

Why enigmatic Marco Andretti will be missed

Last Friday, Marco Andretti announced he is withdrawing from fulltime IndyCar racing. David Malsher-Lopez explains how this third-gen racer was a puzzle in the car, but a straight shooter off-track.

IndyCar
Jan 19, 2021
Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon Prime

Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon

In this exclusive one-on-one interview, Roger Penske reveals the inner drive that has made him not only a hugely successful team owner and businessman but also the owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar. He spoke to David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Dec 28, 2020
Is the mighty McLaren M16 the greatest ever Indy car? Prime

Is the mighty McLaren M16 the greatest ever Indy car?

When founder Bruce McLaren died in June 1970, his team could have folded. Instead, his loyal band rallied to produce a string of winners - including an Indy car game-changer that won three Indy 500s in six years.

IndyCar
Dec 23, 2020
How Newgarden delivered his best season, yet still lost Prime

How Newgarden delivered his best season, yet still lost

Josef Newgarden was our pick as top IndyCar driver of 2020 but his finest season-long run of performances failed to yield the championship. David Malsher-Lopez explains why.

IndyCar
Dec 18, 2020