February 1, 2014 — Audio by Race Chaser Editor-in-Chief Tom Baker — Story by Jacob Seelman for Speed77 Radio and Race Chaser Online — Photo courtesy Cooper Tires Indy Lights — BOCA RATON, FL — If you’re from the Brabham family, chances are you’ll end up behind the wheel of a race car at some point, and you’ll be good at it.
And third-generation driver Matthew Brabham has proven over the past couple of years that good just doesn’t isn’t quite good enough for him.
Brabham has established a fast legacy of greatness, sparked by the driving careers of both his father, Geoff, a four-time IMSA sports car champion, uncle David, a two-time American Le Mans Series (ALMS) champion and former winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and grandfather, the legendary Sir Jack Brabham, a three-time Formula One World Champion.
“I suppose you could say racing’s in my blood,” Brabham joked during a recent interview with Race Chaser Online. “But I love the rush of what I do. There’s nothing like it.”
Brabham began his racing career in his family’s native Australia in 2001, racing in the Australian Midget class. Over a decade racing in Australia, the young prodigy captured three national karting titles and multiple state and rookie honors before switching to Formula racing in 2010. Brabham competed in the Australian Formula Ford class for 2010 and 2011 before signing on with Cape Motorsports/Wayne Taylor Racing in 2012 to race in the U.S. for the first time.
And that transition befit the young star just as it had his father and uncle. Brabham exploded onto the American racing scene in 2012 in the U.S. F2000 championship, grabbing four wins and eleven podium results to wrest the title from his teammate Spencer Pigot by seven points in the final standings. That result began Brabham’s march up the Mazda Road to Indy and placed him with Andretti Autosport for the 2013 season.
“After I won the U.S. F2000 title in 2012, the opportunity with Michael (Andretti) came along and, how do you say no to that? One of the biggest names in open wheel racing. It was a huge moment for me.”
And if Brabham was good with the Cape Team he was nothing short of amazing with Andretti in 2013. Brabham set all-time single-season Pro Mazda records for wins (13, including seven straight), podiums (15), poles (10), fastest laps (13), and laps led (349 out of 432; 81%) en route to sealing the championship with two races remaining in the season.
“We had an incredible season last year with the Andretti team; it was almost unreal at times the way things fell together for us. I learned a lot from how well we performed, but even from the races we did have a few struggles it still helped me a ton for my racing going forward.”
Brabham’s title in Pro Mazda provided him with the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Driver scholarship, granted through the Mazda Road to Indy to the champions for each rung of the MRTI ladder, to advance to the Cooper Tires Indy Lights for 2014. He has also earned the BDRC Rising Star membership from the United Kingdom recognizing his efforts over the last two years as well.
The 19-year-old will return to Andretti Autosport for the 2014 campaign, and just as he has the last two years, will look to sweep both Rookie of the Year honors and the title as he looks to become the first driver in history to win all three championships on the Mazda Road to Indy.
“It’s going to be a big year I think,” Brabham expressed about his outlook on the 2014 season. “We’ve had so much success the last two years I don’t see any reason to lower our hopes for this year. I think we can go out to contend for the title this year and that’s my ultimate goal.”
“If you want to call it carrying on the family legacy, you can,” Brabham laughed. “I’m just going out and doing what I love.”
Listen in as Race Chaser Editor-in-Chief Tom Baker sat down for a recent exclusive interview with Matthew Brabham regarding his family history in motorsports and his upcoming 2014 season: