Indy 500 starter, Matt Brabham held off a hungry Max Papis for victory in the Indy Legends Pro-Am feature race this weekend at the Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational.
Brabham’s illustrious weekend kicked off when he was thrown into the 1963 ‘Class B’ Corvette Roadster with Amateur driver Michael Donohue, on Saturday as a last minute call up for the event.
Qualifying for the ‘Pro’ drivers in the field saw an all Brabham front row. On the Saturday before Father’s day, Matt managed to pip his father, Geoff by 0.6’s to sit on pole for the Indy Legends race. A point of pride for the younger Brabham.
For the race start, drivers were required to hand duties over to the ‘amateur’ car owners. Matt was sidelined for the first 10 laps, as Donohue made the race start in their Corvette.
A Brabham vs. Brabham on track battle wasn’t to be when Geoff Brabham’s co-driver, Jody O’Donnell struck a mechanical issue. O’Donnell suffered a suspension failure four laps into the race and the day was over for the pair. Geoff and Matt unable to go head-to-head at racing speed.
Matt’s day didn’t run entirely smoothly either, Donohue was required to run the maximum 10 laps for the co-driver as the car developed a fuel issue, while others changed drivers earlier in their stints.
Once the third generation racer got in the car, which was one of the oldest in the field, he was able to make an impact on those ahead. Donohue and Brabham were off the podium as they came out of pit lane, but Matt was able to battle his way back to the front and through formidable talents.
The dual American and Australian resident, came up on IndyCar legend Paul Tracy who has won the event previously. Brabham duelled with Tracy, before making his way passed.
After rounding up Tracy, Brabham was then faced with the task of getting past Max Papis. Papis put up a fight, Brabham relishing the chance to go wheel-to-wheel with the hard racer. The pair diced for a few laps with the clock counting down until the chequered flag, until they came up on the back of Jimmy Kite. Papis led Brabham passed Kite, before Brabham was able to swoop around him in the final few laps.
It was a well earned victory for Brabham in a car that couldn’t match the Class A cars for speed on the straightaways, but was able to out-brake competitors coming into the corners.
Brabham was then on the sidelines for the Sunday feature race, cheering his father on to victory in the #83 1971 Brabham BT35-31. It was a special victory for the family, as the car was driven by Geoff’s father and Matt’s grandfather, the legendary Sir Jack Brabham. Matt carries the number 83 in Stadium Super Trucks, where he currently leads the championship.
Brabham is now set to jet from Indianapolis to Queensland, Australia, to steer the Preston Hire Racing Holden Commodore in preparation for his stint as a co-driver in the Supercars PIRTEK Enduro Cup starting in September. Brabham will get behind the wheel again at Queensland Raceway for the dedicated co-driver session (July 20-22).
WHAT MATT HAD TO SAY …
“It was a pretty special weekend, I had a whole lot of fun. I’m very thankful that Mike Donohue was able to get me in the car for this weekend,” said Brabham.
“The race to the end with Max was awesome. It was a big honour to race against him like that, and then to come away with a victory was even sweeter.
“It’s a pity that Dad wasn’t able to get in the car. He had a great shot at winning and it would have been cool to see what could have been.
“Battling with names like Paul Tracy and Max, was awesome. The event was great, and I’m thankful that I got to be a part of it.”