Matt Brabham will become just the third third-generation driver to contest the Indianapolis 500 after his entry for next year's 100th running of the event was confirmed by fellow newcomer Team Murray.
The 21-year old will follow in the footsteps of grandfather Sir Jack Brabham, who drove the first ever rear-engined car in the race in 1961, and father Geoff, who had a best finish of fourth from his ten starts between 1981-1993.
Brabham's opportunity has been created by Australian motorsport identity Brett 'Crusher' Murray, and will be run in conjunction with KV Racing Technology, who won the Indy 500 in 2013 with Tony Kanaan. The entry will be known as Pirtek Team Murray after its lead sponsor, and will compete in the Angie's List Grand Prix road course race at Indianapolis on 14 May in addition to the 100th running of the 500 on 29 May.
Brabham has spent the last four years forging his open-wheel career in the US, winning the USF2000 and Pro Mazda Championships before progressing to Indy Lights. The Australian will be the ninth driver from his nation to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 since Rupert Jeffkins drove in the very first event in 1911 in a car entered by the Velie Motor Company.
“There is no doubt that this is a dream come true,” Brabham admitted, “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. They have 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 has a first class programme 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 29 May to roll around.”
Pirtek Team Murray was officially launched in Sydney, where Brabham is taking part in Stadium Super Truck exhibition races as part of the final round of the V8 Supercars Championship around Sydney Olympic Park.
“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 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 and Jimmy. 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.”