Australian motorsport legend, Vern Schuppan, has given his “stamp of approval” to PIRTEK Team Murray’s entry for this year’s 100th Indianapolis 500 and its rookie driver Matt Brabham, becoming part of the team’s inner sanctum at the May 29 event.
Schuppan will lend his vast experience to the team in an effort to help Brabham become just the second Australian to win Rookie of the Year honors after his own achievement in 1976.
Schuppan, an Adelaide resident, qualified three times for the Indy 500 and was third in 1981 – the best result for an Australian until Will Power finished second to Juan Pablo Montoya last year.
Ironically, 1981 was the year that Matt’s father Geoff made the first of his 10 Indy 500 appearances and finished fifth.
Just two years later Schuppan would win the famous Le Mans 24-hour race in the Rothmans Porsche 956 with Hurley Haywood and Al Holbert.
Schuppan spent time with Matt Brabham and PIRTEK Team Murray owner, Brett “Crusher” Murray at the opening round of the V8 Supercars Championship in his home city of Adelaide, South Australia today.
Brabham was back in Australia this weekend to compete in the Stadium Super Trucks support events at the Clipsal 500 – where he finished third overall – and will be back in the US for media and team commitments at the opening round of the Verizon IndyCar Series in St Petersburg, Florida next weekend.
The third generation Brabham enjoyed many stories of days gone by in his time with Schuppan, with the legend passing on many valuable words of advice to the 22-year-old.
Aside from coming perilously close to victory at Indianapolis, Schuppan spent time in Formula 1 – finishing fifth in his first F1 race for Marlboro BRM in the 1972 Gold Cup at Oulton Park, following that up with fourth at Brands Hatch in another non-Championship round.
Schuppan also won the Macau Grand Prix on two occasions (1974 and 1976) for Teddy Yip’s iconic Theodore Racing, contributing two of Theodore’s record seven Macau GP victories.
Schuppan is one of the many greats that have thrown their support behind PIRTEK Team Murray’s tilt at the 100th Indy 500, and he relished the opportunity to meet with Matt and discuss his preparations for the biggest single-day event in world sports.
While keeping a close eye on the PIRTEK Team Murray operation, Schuppan will also be actively involved in the 100th Indy 500 celebrations as a guest of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY…..
VERN SCHUPPAN – AUSTRALIAN MOTORSPORT LEGEND
“We have been friends with the Brabham family for many years through racing and I have followed Matt’s career with interest over the last two or three seasons,” said Schuppan.
“It was fantastic to see him get his break with the formation of PIRTEK Team Murray.
“Matt is about to enter the next exciting stage of his career and it is terrific that he will be making his debut at the 100th running of the event.
“The next couple of months will be a bit of a blur for him, but he is smart enough and has a genuine desire to be successful in American open-wheel racing.”
MATT BRABHAM – DRIVER – PIRTEK TEAM MURRAY
“You look at Vern’s record, he’s one of the very few Australians that have achieved success in Formula 1, IndyCar and in Sportscar racing,” said Brabham.
“It is great to have him here with us in Adelaide this weekend. He is so well respected on the international stage. To have him pass on some of his knowledge and advice and for him to accept our invitation to be part of our program is enormous.
“At PIRTEK Team Murray we’re extremely fortunate to be surrounded by so many people that have had an involvement in IndyCar and other forms of motorsport over the years.
“I’m lapping up every piece of advice and I’m sure it will all come in handy at various stages during the Month of May.”
BRETT ‘CRUSHER” MURRAY – OWNER – PIRTEK TEAM MURRAY
“For the true Australian motorsport fan, Vern Schuppan stands out as one of the absolute greats of the sport,” said Murray.
“I have known Vern for several years and he has always been very generous with his time and thorough with his interest.
“We asked him if he would like to be included as part of our program and he was genuinely excited about the opportunity.
“We’re very thankful for Vern taking time to come and meet with Matt and have a chat about the Indy 500, while he was in Adelaide and we cannot wait to see him on the grid with us in May.
“Since day one of launching the PIRTEK Team Murray program, we’ve wanted it to be accessible and for everyone to be part of it.
“I don’t think Vern has ever received the genuine accolades he deserves in Australia. The fact he was the highest placed Australian at Indy until last year, when you consider the talent of the Australians that have been there since, shows you how much of a challenge the Indy 500 is.”
Australian-founded Fluid Transfer Solutions company, PIRTEK is the naming rights partner to PIRTEK Team Murray through its 58 strong USA franchise model.
The team has a relationship with the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation as its Official Foundation. It was launched in honor of the American Sniper, Chris Kyle. Kyle’s wife, Taya, is the team ambassador.
A special announcement regarding PIRTEK Team Murray and the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation is due to take place at the opening round of the Verizon IndyCar Series next weekend at St Petersburg, Florida, with Taya Kyle and representatives from the Series.
PIRTEK Team Murray will take part in the Angie’s List Grand Prix (May 12-14) and then will head straight into practice for the Indianapolis 500 beginning May 16, with the race to take place on May 29.
ABOUT VERN SCHUPPAN
Schuppan was 1971 British Formula Atlantic Champion, made 10 Formula 1 World Championship starts between 1972 and 1977 and a number of non-Championship F1 starts, finishing fifth on debut. He is a two-time winner of the Macau Grand Prix in 1974 and 1976.
Vern made 32 IndyCar starts between 1973 and 1989, including three appearances at the Indy 500 where he finished as Rookie of the Year in 1976 and finished third in 1981.
Ironically, Schuppan’s third place finish was the best by an Australian in the Indy 500 until Will Power finished second to Juan Pablo Montoya last year.
Schuppan also made four starts at the Bathurst 1000 with a best finish of fifth with Dick Johnson in 1978.
SOCIAL AND OTHER NETWORKS:
PIRTEK Team Murray
Chris Kyle Frog Foundation