Geoff competed in his first Indy 500 in a team run by David Psachie for Josele Garza. The effort attracted late financial support from ‘Mexico’, which adorned the side of the car in big letters.
He ran strongly for the majority of the event, however the cam lobes were worn out by the end of the race and the engine exploded at the start-finish line as he took the checkered flag.
He finished fifth, but declining power in the closing stages cost him at least third place.
|March||Ford Cosworth||Bignotti-Cotter||Pentax Super||21||28||DNF/Engine|
At his second attempt, Geoff drove for the legendary George Bignotti, who he found a bit of an interesting character.
Bignotti forgot to raise the green flag on Geoff’s initial qualifying lap. He had to qualify again, but the engine blew up. He finally qualified on his third attempt and started 21st. In the race, Geoff went from 21st to 10th in 10 laps, but the engine let go just two laps later and he was classified in 28th place.
Bignotti, the most successful chief mechanic in 500 history died in 2013 at the age of 97.
|Penske||Ford Cosworth||Team VDS||Uno/British Sterling||26||4|
Geoff got this third consecutive ride in the Indy 500 when John Paul Jr crashed and broke his ankle in qualifying. Geoff got the drive in the second weekend of qualifying and enjoyed the year-old Penske chassis, which had been modified by the VDS team.
After starting 26th, Geoff worked his way up to second place, but stalled during his last pit stop and lost track position. He eventually finished fourth.
He was eyeing off a second place finish, but this might have been the one that got away. His most disappointing result after coming tantalisingly close to a better finish.
|March||Ford Cosworth||Kraco||Kraco Car Stereo||8||33||DNF / Fuel Line|
At Indy, you can have a long day or a very short day. Geoff had the latter in 1984. He had qualified strongly in eighth, but he had a drama just before the start of the race.
One of the mechanics forgot to tighten an injector line. As he took the green flag, the car immediately caught fire and the race was over less than a mile into the 500-mile race.
|March||Ford Cosworth||Galles||Coors Light Silver Bullet||9||19||DNF / Engine|
Some strong wind gusts caused all sorts of drama in qualifying, but Geoff battled the conditions to clinch the outside of row three in ninth.
The car was running strongly in the race before the unique boost control – that had been developed by John Judd – came loose and hampered Geoff’s ability to control the turbo.
Despite being down on boost, he could still run with the leaders, but eventually the engine let go 70 laps from home. It was another case of “what could have been”.
|Lola||Ford Cosworth||Galles||Valvoline Spirit||20||12||7 laps down|
The 1986 race was delayed a week after being washed out and was eventually won by Bobby Rahal who became the first driver to win in less than three hours. His team owner Jim Trueman watched from the pit lane stricken with cancer and died 11 days later.
Geoff qualified in 20th position, but battled all day and eventually took the checkered flag in 12th place, but was seven laps down.
|March||Brabham-Honda||Galles||Team Valvoline||14||24||DNF / Oil Pressure|
Geoff qualified 14th with the Honda-powered Brabham which obviously had less power than the Cosworth opposition. He was lucky to make the race at all after major scare in practice where the front right wheel came loose and dropped off the pegs which resulted in the disc machining the rim in half.
Geoff had just come out of the pits when it happened and lightly touched the wall at turn three and came to a halt. He was returned to the pits in the pace car and not the ambulance – as it had a flat battery. He lasted 71 laps in the race before he lost oil pressure.
“I’m just glad I did not hit the wall hard in practice,” said Geoff in reference to the out of action ambulance.
|Penske||Chevy||Penske||Miller High Life||DNS|
Roger Penske gave Geoff some laps in Danny Sullivan’s car after Sullivan was battling with an injured arm and it wasn’t certain if he would be fit enough for the race. Sullivan ended up taking part. He qualified in 26th and was classified in 28th place after a rear axle let go on lap 42. Geoff was drafted in to replace Sullivan in the next race in Portland, and was running second when he had an engine failure.
“That car was the best I had driven around the speedway. I was extremely jealous of the Penske drivers,” said Geoff.
|Lola||Judd||Truesports||Mac Tools Distributors||19||19||39 Laps down|
It was another long day at the office in the Truesports Lola Judd in 1990. Geoff qualified 19th and that is where he finished – 39 laps down after struggling with a serious lack of horsepower all day.
In complete contrast, Dutchman Arie Luyendyk won the race with a record average speed of 186.981 (299.307kph). A record that stood until Tony Kanaan won the 2013 race.
Geoff went to the 500 in 1991 as teammate to Scott Pruett at Truesports. He qualified 22nd and was running strongly until lap 110 when an electrical issue ended his day and he was classified in 20th.
Pruett started 27th and was classified 12th when his transmission failed 33 laps from home. Rick Mears won the race by 3.14 seconds from Michael Andretti, who was the only other driver on the lead lap.
|Lola||Buick V6||Team Menard||Glidden/Menards||29||26||DNF/Engine|
Heading into the 1993 race with a V6 Buick powering his Team Menard Lola was always going to be an issue for Geoff who qualified 29th. The Buick was a “hand grenade” at best.
It was surprising Geoff made it through to lap 177 before the engine exploded leaving him 26th. His Menard teammate Nelson Piquet lasted just 38 laps before his engine expired. Emerson Fittipaldi won his second 500. this time for Team Penske.
|Lola||Buick V6||Team Menard||DNQ|
Geoff had his last attempt to qualify for the race in 1994 when he was thrown into the Team Menard entry on the last day. The run started strongly and he was in the frame to make the race after the opening lap, but then the car started to push very badly and he fell just short.
1994 – Inaugural Brickyard 400 – NASCAR
|Thunderbird||Ford||Kranefuss-Haas||K-MART||18||38||Crashed Lap 127|
Geoff was a “hired gun” for the inaugural Brickyard 400 NASCAR event in 1994 and drove the K-Mart Ford Thunderbird for Kranefuss-Haas Racing.
He set the 18th fastest time on the opening day which locked him into the field. Geoff struggled with major understeer in the race and despite making adjustments at every stop could not dial out the problem.
In the end he had little angle on the rear spoiler and the car behind him disrupted his air heading into turn one and he ended up in the wall.
Geoff was disappointed he did not get the chance to do more NASCAR events, but he is the only Australian to have raced in both the Indy 500 and Brickyard 400.