The PIRTEK Team Murray entry in the Indy 500 carried a special tribute to several racing identities who have lost their lives on and off the track and did not get the chance to witness the 100th Indianapolis 500.
All were close friends of team owner, Brett “Crusher” Murray who shared a special and different relationship with each one of them. And all of them have a spiritual connection to IndyCar racing or the Indy 500.
“This group of men were all extremely special to me for so many varied reasons, but all of them will be riding with us as we prepare for the 100th Indy 500,” said Murray.
“A couple were like fathers and others like brothers and all left big gaps to fill.
“I have never had a car in the Indy 500 before and while we have put together a great team, I thought it would be nice to pay tribute this lot and see if we can get them to help us with a few extra MPH down the back stretch.”
The Kiwi won the Formula 1 World Championship in the same year Murray was born – 1967 – but the age gap did not snag their friendship.
Known as “The Bear” because of his dislike for journalists, Hulme took a liking to Murray, despite his media background and would hit him up for his latest Kiwi jokes as soon as he arrived at Bathurst each year.
Hulme died of a suspected heart attack while driving a car Murray was Media Manager for in 1992. It was the first “fatality” media release Murray would have to write at the age of 24.Hulme competed in the Indianapolis 500 on four occasions: 1967, 1968, 1969, and 1971.
His best results in the event were in 1967 and 1968, both times finishing fourth. He did not compete in the 1970 race, due to methanol burns to the hands after a fire during practice.
Scott Dixon has done a great job flying the Kiwi flag on Hulme’s behalf.
Canadian, Greg Moore became a personal friend of Murray during his days as a driver at the Gold Coast Indy 300 on the Gold Coast.
Moore was to join Murray and a group of regular drivers for a dinner after the final round of the 1999 championship to celebrate Murray moving to the US the following year to take up a role with PacWest Racing.
Moore, who was set to make a career-changing move to Team Penske the following year, lost his life on lap 10.
A black and white image of Moore, taken sitting in the sun on the pit wall at the Gold Coast just a couple of weeks earlier, proudly sits in Murray’s office, where he has looked over him for the past 16 years.
Murray was the Media Manager at PacWest Racing in 2000 when Renna was teammates with Kiwi, Scott Dixon.
Murray was arranging the media centre for the first day of the Gold Coast 300 in 2004 when he received a call to say that Renna had not survived an IRL testing accident at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
A delightful young guy, Renna had also become a favourite of Murray’s wife Trudi, who was the hospitality hostess for PacWest that season.
The experience of the 2000 season is evident when you consider that Dixon remains a close friend of Murray’s to this day.
“Ando” was the Team Manager at PacWest Racing and had played a major role in encouraging Murray to make the move to the US in 2000.
A 30-year veteran of US racing, Ando and his wife Lesley took Murray and his wife Trudi under their wing .
Ando had a passion for flying and on a hot summer’s afternoon he would talk Murray into cutting a few laps of the Indianapolis area in his private plane. When Murray privately told Anderson that he and Trudi were expecting their first child during a race weekend in Brazil, Ando turned the night into one hell of a celebration (That nobody knew about except the two Aussies).
Robbed of the Indy 500 in 2002 with Paul Tracy, he would call the winning shots for Dan Wheldon in 2005 and then again for Dario Franchitti in 2007. As tough as a bull and with a handshake to match, Ando lost his life after a game of racquetball in December 2010.
Murray spoke at his memorial service in Sydney, which was attended by some of Australia’s racing greats including Kevin Bartlett.
The following year Wheldon would win the Indy 500 again and tribute it to Ando.
Another driver who became friends with Murray through the Gold Coast IndyCar race was Dan Wheldon. The Englishman had a terrific sense of humour and Murray watched on from his pit box when he clinched the 2011 Indy 500 and drank beer with him back in his garage post race.
Wheldon was supposed to head back to the Gold Coast the night after the final round of the 2011 IndyCar season in Las Vegas for an international V8 Supercar race.
He never made it and Murray had to arrange a media conference in Australia to announce his friend’s passing. It would prove one of the toughest and most emotional weeks of Murray’s racing career.
Sir Jack Brabham
One of the greatest the world of motorsport has ever seen, Sir Jack Brabham won three Formula 1 World Championships in 1959, 60 and 66. The last of those coming in a car he helped design and build himself.
Murray was fortunate to meet Brabham as a motorsport journalist and became much closer to him in his later years. Brabham passed away in his sleep in May 2014 and Murray encouraged the Queensland State Government to give him a State Funeral.
A few months before his passing, having a chat over a cup of tea at his house, Murray made a commitment to Brabham that he would help his grandson Matthew with his career if the opportunity arose.
Matthew will drive the PIRTEK Team Murray car in the 100th Indianapolis 500.
A terrifically talented and tall Englishman who had the two things you need in this business, patience and persistence.
Wilson was another who Murray befriended through the Gold Coast Indy 300 years and there was always a warm embrace and a long conversation each time they met. Their last good chat came over a few drinks at the end of season celebrations in LA after Will Power’s championship in 2014, with Murray making the plane home to Australia with minutes to spare.
Wilson lost his life at Pocono in August 2015 a day after being struck by a nosecone dislodged from a rival’s car following a separate crash. He leaves behind wife Julia and daughters Jane, 7, and Jessica, 5.