The next piece of the PIRTEK Team Murray puzzle for this year's 100th Indianapolis 500 has been put into place following the acquisition of engineer Andy Brown to work with rookie Matt Brabham as he prepares for his Verizon IndyCar Series debut in May.
Brown, one of the most experienced engineers in the business, has been part of multiple Indy 500 and IndyCar Series winning programmes. He was the assistant technical director at Galles/KRACO Racing when Al Unser Jr won in 1992 in the closest ever Indy 500 finish in the team's self-built Galmer chassis, and then went on to engineer Sam Hornish Jr when he claimed his back-to-back Indy Racing League championships in 2001 and 2002 at Panther Racing.
“The PIRTEK Team Murray concept is an exciting one and one which really gets back to the core of what racing is all about,” Brown said, “The team has managed to create a terrific programme for its partners off the track, but at the same time we know [team boss Brett] 'Crusher' [Murray] is a racer at heart and really wants the best for Matt and everyone involved on track. They want to be seriously competitive and they know what it will take to achieve that.
“The 100th Indianapolis 500 is going to be a special event and we will be doing everything we can to ensure we have the best preparation possible. I'm excited to be going to the Brickyard with Matt - and create our own history. I know what it is like to have that feeling - the Unser family made their history in 1992 when I was at Galles/KRACO when 'Little Al' joined 'Big Al' as the first father and son to have their faces etched on the Borg Warner trophy.
“Matt is a terrific young lad with plenty of talent and the right work ethic. He also is in the business for the right reasons. That is a pretty good foundation for us to build on - his breeding is not too bad either. I think the 100th Indianapolis 500 is a event everyone in the business wants to be a part of and to be going there with an exciting new team and a talented young driver with the name, Brabham, adds that little bit extra for me.”
Prior to his career in racing, Brown studied aeronautical engineering at the University of Bath in England, graduating in 1981 before joining British Aerospace. In 1984, he joined March Engineering and worked on their F3000 program before becoming a race engineer for the March-Leyton House F1 team from 1988 through 1990, where he worked with Brazilian driver Mauricio Gugelmin.
In 1991, Brown had his first contact with the Brabham name, when he became race engineer for Martin Brundle at the Brabham F1 team, before stamping his name on the world of IndyCar the following year, joining Galmer Engineering as assistant technical director and going on to record that memorable win with 'Little Al' in a car the team designed itself.
Brown later became a founding member and chief engineer for PacWest Racing, where he renewed his relationship with Gugelmin, before a move to Panther Racing would result in the back-to-back IRL titles with Hornish Jr. He joined Chip Ganassi Racing for the 2006 season to work as Dan Wheldon's race engineer for a couple of seasons before moving into R&D with a focus on aerodynamics.
For 2011, he returned to the UK and created his engineering business ACB Consulting Ltd, but maintains a lot of on-going business in US open-wheel racing. To satisfy his need for racing, however, Brown has recently been involved with 2013 British Touring Car Champion, Andrew Jordan in the British Touring Car Championship - ironically, in a car sponsored by PIRTEK.
Brown and Brabham will be working out of the KV Racing Technology shop in Indianapolis on a daily basis. They are set to be involved work together in a road course test later this month before some sessions on the Dallara simulator in Indianapolis.
The PIRTEK Team Murray outfit will contest the Angie's List Grand Prix of Indianapolis over 12-14 May and then begin its Indianapolis 500 quest with opening practice on Monday 16 May.
“When we were putting this deal together obviously one of the biggest questions is, 'who is your engineer?',” Brabham concluded, “There are so many variables, but there are not too many rookie drivers who would be disappointed heading into their first Indy 500 campaign with Andy Brown as their engineer.
“He has forgotten plenty more than I know at this point of my career and has tremendous respect in the paddock. We have a lot to get through and I cannot wait to get to work - whether that is in front of the laptop, in the simulator or on the racetrack. We only have one focus and that is doing the best job we possibly can for ourselves and everyone that has shown faith in us.”