Geoff Brabham Enters “Indy Legends” Charity Pro-Am; To Present “Sir Jack” Trophy
The Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) today announced that for the second year running two great icons of the sport with huge contributions to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) will be honored with special trophies awarded in their honor at the June 11-14 “Brickyard Invitational.” Legendary Indianapolis 500 chief mechanic and car builder A.J. Watson and Formula One (F1) world champion Sir Jack Brabham will be remembered when awards are presented to the owners of the cars judged the best examples of “roadsters” and Brabham racers respectively.
Watson roadsters won the Indianapolis 500 six times with some of the greatest names of the sport at the wheel: Pat Flaherty (1956), Rodger Ward (1959 & ‘62), Jim Rathmann (1960), Parnelli Jones (1963) and A.J. Foyt (1964). Watson reached the zenith of his career when owner Bob Wilke formed the Leader Card Team in 1959. Wilke combined Watson’s mechanical genius with Ward’s immense driving skills. The press loved it, dubbing the trio, “The Flying W’s.” Watson, who first came to IMS in 1948, led Indianapolis 500 race teams through 1984 and returned frequently afterwards as a consultant to teams. Demand for his roadsters remains strong and collectors purchased new ones that Watson constructed well into his eighties. He was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1996 and passed away last year on May 12.
Three-time world champion Sir Jack Brabham drove in four Indianapolis 500s and is credited with launching the rear-engine revolution at the track when he scored a ninth place finish with his underpowered Cooper F1 racer in 1961. Brabham started racing midgets on dirt tracks in Australia in 1948 before traveling to England to advance his career. As much or more a mechanic and engineer as brilliant driver he turned the wrenches on the Cooper team cars and steadily developed his construction skills. He won the world championship twice for Cooper, in 1959 and 1960, before launching his own team in 1962 and eventually producing cars under his name in 1964. He remains the only man to win the championship both as a constructor and a driver, achieving that in 1966. Brabham, who was knighted by the Queen of England in 1978, continued working with engines and design for most of the rest of his life.
Geoff Brabham, a 10-time starter in the Indianapolis 500, has agreed to present the trophy bearing his father’s name at the Brickyard Invitational. Geoff finished fourth in the 1983 Indianapolis 500. He also won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 12 Hours of Sebring and is a four-time IMSA GT Prototype champion. This year he has entered the feature event of the weekend, the “Indy Legends” Charity Pro-Am.
“I am pleased the SVRA honors my father,” says Brabahm. “Because of his passing last year I had to forego the opportunity to race in the Indy Legends Charity Pro-Am but I am excited to do it this year.”
The SVRA will work in collaboration with Indianapolis Motor Speedway Historian Donald Davidson to organize qualified judges and manage the selection process for the trophies. An additional trophy, called “Best of Show” will also be awarded. Like Sir Jack and Watson Davidson is a member of the Auto Racing Hall of Fame. He was inducted in 2012 and remains the only historian to earn the honor.
“I worked with Tony Parella, CEO of the SVRA on this effort last year and thoroughly enjoyed myself,” says Davidson. “These trophies are an important part of the weekend and I think they can grow with the event in coming years and become increasingly well-known and significant.”
Like last year, the SVRA, America’s premier vintage racing organization, is presenting the “Indy Legends” Charity Pro-Am for veterans of the Indianapolis 500. It is a 40-minute race of American muscle cars on the Speedway’s 2.43-mile Grand Prix road course on Saturday, June 13. All the veterans will be in 1963 to 1972 vintage Corvettes, Camaros and Mustangs of “Group 6,” with an engine displacement limit of 355 cubic inches. Professionals will be paired with amateur drivers, splitting stints at the wheel at their discretion. Brabham is the event’s 20th entry.
The Indy Legends Pro-Am is the crowning event of the Brickyard Invitational but there is literally a festival of other activities. Like last year, the storied 2.5-mile oval will be utilized with exhibition runs by a wide variety of cars including several of the crowd-favorite 1950’s Indianapolis 500 “roadsters.” The 2015 weekend not only promises a huge gathering of race cars but also some of the finest collector cars. Motostalgia, with offices in Austin, Mexico City and Monaco will stage a June 12 auction of select automobiles from around the world. The Brickyard Invitational will also expand out onto the world-famous infield IMS golf course with car corrals for organizations and clubs united by special marques and vintages.
The SVRA has 11 groups of race cars spanning 100 years and all will be at IMS. Entries include pre-war machines, classic sports cars, Formula One and Le Mans prototypes as current as 2009. Race fans can enjoy every minute of the action with overnight camping inside IMS. Pro-Am cars and drivers will also participate in a starting grid Fan Walk prior to opening ceremonies so fans can see the cars up close, take photos and chat with the drivers. All entry fees will be donated to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum Foundation.
Brickyard Invitational ticket information: Fans can order Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational tickets for all or any one of the four days of the event online through the Speedway or by calling 800-822-INDY or 317-492-6700 between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday. Fans can also visit the ticket office at the IMS Administration Building at 4790 West 16th Street between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday. Tickets for groups of 20 or more also are available. Contact the IMS Group Sales Department at (866) 221-8775 for more information. Children 12 and under are admitted free each day when accompanied by an adult. Tent camping passes in the IMS infield start at $30 and are available all four days.