Sir Jack Brabham in top 100 most important people to Indy 500

Sir Jack Brabham in his debut at Indianapolis

Sir Jack Brabham in his debut at Indianapolis

Sir Jack Brabham in his debut at Indianapolis

Sir Jack Brabham in his debut at Indianapolis

This month’s 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 means that little bit more to 22 year-old rookie Matt Brabham every day – this past weekend he was honored to learn his Grandfather, Sir Jack Brabham was included in the 100 most important people in the Indy 500’s history.

22-year-old Brabham will create his own history later this month driving in the #61 PIRTEK Team Murray Chevrolet in the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis (May 14) and the Indianapolis 500 (May 29).

Sir Jack, who passed away in May 2014 at the age of 88, started the rear-engine revolution at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1961 and competed in the race four times.

The pioneering Australian qualified 17th on debut and finished ninth and on the lead lap after inconsistent tire wear forced him to make one further pit stop than he has scheduled.

His Kimberly Cooper T54 was the only rear-engine car in the 1961 race and by 1969, there were no front-engined cars in the field.

Sir Jack’s son Geoff made his Indy 500 debut in 1981 and competed in 10 events, with a best result of fourth in 1983.

Matt will become just the third third-generation driver to qualify for the race on Saturday May 21 – putting the Brabham family name beside that of Vukovich and Andretti.

Matt Brabham with his father Geoff at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum

Matt Brabham with his father Geoff at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum

“We have said it many times, but it is just an honor and a privilege to be part of this year’s Month of May and everything that goes with it,” said Matt.

“We have been involved in several major activities in recent weeks around the 500, which has been amazing, but to see my grandfather on the list of the 100 most important people in the history of Indianapolis 500 is really surreal.

“When you go through that list there are some amazing names in front of him and behind him.

“There were several names on the list I did not know, but I have already been online and into some books today to bring myself up to speed and educate myself. I still have a bit of work to do, but every name has an incredible story.

“I continually find the history and stories of the 500 and the Speedway so interesting.

“I know my grandfather would be have felt quite honored to be on that list and have his contribution to the rear-engine revolution recognized in such a manner.

“My IndyCar career starts at the Speedway this month and we’re totally focused on what we need to do. The crew from PIRTEK Team Murray and I have got our heads down and are working hard, concentrating on doing the best job we can in my rookie year.”

Matt will make his Indy 500 debut in May

Matt will make his Indy 500 debut in May

The top 100 list was compiled by respected US motorsport writer Curt Cavin from the Indianapolis Star and USA Today. The list was topped by Tony Hulman – who purchased the track in 1945 and rejuvenated the place after it had deteriorated during the war years.

The Hulman-George family maintain ownership of the Speedway to this day and have just completed another multi-million dollar upgrade of the facility in time for this month’s 100th running, which is set to draw the biggest crowd in the race’s history.

Number two on the list is original track creator Carl Fisher, while Wilbur Shaw was at number three. Shaw won the race three times and helped broker the deal between Hulman and former owner Eddy Rickenbacker (#9) before becoming track President and General Manger.

Four-time race winner A.J Foyt, the legendary Mario Andretti, who won the race in 1969, and 1963 winner Parnelli Jones sit fourth, fifth and sixth respectively on the list.

Roger Penske, who has won 16 Indy 500s as a team owner, sits seventh ahead of Sid Collins, who was the radio voice of the Indy 500 from 1952-1976 and was credited with coining the phrase “the greatest spectacle in racing”.

Rickenbacker, who owned the track from 1927 to 1945 before selling to Hulman, is at number nine while Tom Carneige, who was the public voice of the Speedway from 1946 to 2006 rounded out the top 10.

Sir Jack is the only Australian on the list which includes investors, drivers, team owners, promoters, media, officials, track staff, celebrities and team members.

For more information on the top 100 list head to indystar.com/sports/motor_sports/.

THE 100 MOST IMPORTANT PEOPLE TO THE INDIANAPOLIS 500:
1. Tony Hulman
2. Carl Fisher
3. Wilbur Shaw
4. A.J. Foyt
5. Mario Andretti
6. Parnelli Jones
7. Roger Penske
8. Sid Collins
9. Eddie Rickenbacker
10. Tom Carnegie
11. Louis Meyer
12. James Allison
13. Rick Mears
14. Andy Granatelli
15. Bill Vukovich
16. Colin Chapman
17. Tom Sneva
18. Nigel Mansell
19. Bobby Unser
20. Tony George
21. Al Unser
22. Jim Clark
23. Emerson Fittipaldi
24. Rodger Ward
25. Johnny Rutherford
26. Jim McKay
27. A.J. Watson
28. Dan Gurney
29. Ralph DePalma
30. Bill Simpson
31. Mauri Rose
32. Jim Rathmann
33. Danny Sullivan
34. Jim Nabors
35. Mari Hulman George
36. Jackie Stewart
37. Joe Cloutier
38. Tom Binford
39. Chip Ganassi
40. Lou Moore
41. Ray Harroun
42. Sam Hanks
43. Eddie Sachs
44. George Bignotti
45. Leo Mehl
46. Al Unser Jr.
47. J.C. Agajanian
48. Danica Patrick
49. Paul Newman
50. Jim Hurtubise
51. Arie Luyendyk
52. James Garner
53. Helio Castroneves
54. Tony Stewart
55. Paul Page
56. Jack Brabham
57. Fred Offenhauser
58. Frank Kurtis
59. Alberto Ascari
60. Clint Brawner
61. Clarence Cagle
62. Tim Richmond
63. Dean Sicking
64. Fred Duesenberg
65. Billy Arnold
66. Michael Andretti
67. Mike Boyle
68. Rex Mays
69. Johnnie Parsons
70. Al Dean
71. David Letterman
72. Harry Miller
73. Tony Kanaan
74. Mark Donohue
75. Dario Franchitti
76. Gordon Johncock
77. Tommy Milton
78. Bobby Rahal
79. Dan Wheldon
80. Lloyd Ruby
81. Jimmy Bryan
82. Arthur Chevrolet
83.Louis Chevrolet
84. Smokey Yunick
85. Jim Hall
86. Lem Trotter
87. Jim McGee
88. Harlan Fengler
89. Donald Davidson
90. Bob Collins
91. Sarah Fisher
92. Peter de Paolo
93. Steve Hannigan
94. Frank Lockhart
95. Willy T. Ribbs
96. Kevin Forbes
97. Janet Guthrie
98. Troy Ruttman
99. Frank Wheeler
100.  Joe Leonard

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