Pirtek Team Murray’s Matt Brabham has capped off the biggest year of his motorsport career by being voted the third generation of his family into the prestigious Road Racing Drivers Club.
The 22 year-old is one of the youngest drivers nominated for the “invitation only” club which is voted on by RRDC members.
He joins his grandfather Sir Jack (in memoriam), father Geoff and uncle David as members of the prestigious club which also includes fellow Australian drivers Allan Moffat, Vern Schuppan, Marcos Ambrose, Will Power, Ryan Briscoe, Dennis Firestone and commentator Leigh Diffey.
Brabham, who was born in Florida, raised in Australia and lives in Indiana, made his IndyCar debut in the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis in May and two weeks later became qualified for his maiden Indy 500.
A total of 25 racecar drivers and motorsport professionals were included in the 2016 list of inductees, including 17 regular members from the open-wheel and sportscar ranks, five associate members and three honorary members.
Other well-known names included in this year’s list include former Indy 500 winner Al Unser Jr, sportscar champion and Indycar ace Christian Fittipaldi, Le Mans 24-hour winner and former F1 driver Alex Wurz, 1960s and 70s English saloon car ace John Fitzpatrick and reigning Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi.
The Road Racing Drivers Club was formed in 1952 as a way to give champion drivers a say in their sport, particularly in the areas of safety, and has evolved to serve the future of road racing by mentoring new drivers on both amateur and professional levels.
The Club’s membership includes leading industry professionals, race officials and motorsports journalists, in addition to prominent racing names.
Brabham also became just the third third-generation driver to make his Indy 500 debut behind his grandfather Sir Jack Brabham and his father, Geoff, who made 10 Indy 500 starts.
He set the foundation for his open-wheel career by winning the 2012 USF2000 championship and the 2013 Pro Mazda Championship before going on to win several Indy Lights races.
“To be nominated and then voted in as a member of the Road Racing Drivers Club is a terrific honor,” said Matt Brabham.
“There are some amazing names that are part of the club and to be considered a part of that group by my peers is humbling. To be the third generation of Brabhams on the list is also something pretty special.
“To make my Indycar debut at the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis and then to make my first Indy 500 appearance as part of Pirtek Team Murray was a little surreal looking back on it.
“Hopefully there are plenty more to come.”
The current list of inductees brings the total number of members to 510 since its inception in 1952.
“The RRDC is proud to announce the latest roster of new members to the organisation,” said president, Bobby Rahal.
“We are honored to welcome a group of outstanding racing champions and high achievers in the auto-racing arena. It’s clear that they are not only accomplished representatives of the sport, they have conducted themselves honorably off the track, a quality the RRDC members take into consideration when voting in new members.”
“We also appreciate that each new member has enthusiastically accepted membership in the RRDC. We look forward to working with them as the RRDC continues to pursue its goals of recognizing and mentoring aspiring race-car drivers through a variety of programs.”
In alphabetical order, here are the new Regular Members:
JONATHAN BENNETT – Charlotte, N.C.
Two-time IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Prototype Challenge Driver Champion, 2014-15.
MATTHEW BRABHAM – Indianapolis, Ind.
The 2012 USF2000 Champion; 2013 Pro Mazda Champion.
GABBY CHAVES – Indianapolis, Ind.
The 2009 Formula BMW Americas Champion; 2013 Indy Lights Champion; 2015 IndyCar Rookie of the Year.
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI – Key Biscayne, Fla.
Two-time IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Prototype Champion (with Joao Barbosa), 2014-15; 2014 Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup Champion (with Joao Barbosa).
JOHN FITZPATRICK – Lapworth, England
The 1966 British Saloon Car Champion; the 1972 and ’74 European GT Champion; Porsche Cup titlist in 1972, ’74 and ’80.
GEORGE FIZELL – Tucson, Ariz.
The 1984 SCCA President’s Cup winner; earned four SCCA National Championships in Formula Vee.
SAGE KARAM – Nazareth, Pa.
The 2010 USF2000 National Champion; 2013 Indy Lights Champion; 35-time World Karting Assn. and IRL Stars of Karting National champion.
JOEL MILLER – San Diego, Calif.
The 2006 ICA North American Champion; 2013 Rookie of the Year in Rolex Grand-Am Championship; driver coach.
SPENCER PIGOT – Pasadena, Calif.
The 2015 Indy Lights champion; 2014 Pro Mazda Champion; 2010 Skip Barber Racing Series National Champion.
JEFF PURNER – Birmingham, Ala.
The 1985 Skip Barber Racing Series Champion; 1990 IMSA Firestone Firehawk GS Champion; 1993 Trans-Am Rookie of the Year.
ALEXANDER ROSSI – Indianapolis, Ind.
The 2016 Indy 500 champion and Indy Rookie of the Year; competed in five F1 races in 2015 before switching to IndyCar.
AMIY RUMAN – Kent, Ohio
The 2015 Trans-Am Champion; first female Trans-Am Champion in the 50-year history of the Series.
JORDAN TAYLOR – Apopka, Fla.
The 2013 DP-class Champion in Rolex Grand-Am Championship (with Max Angelelli).
RICKY TAYLOR – Lake Mary, Fla.
The 2006 Skip Barber Karting Shootout Scholarship winner; competes with brother Jordan in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
AL UNSER JR. – Henderson, Nev.
The 1981 Super Vee Champion; 1982 SCCA Can-Am Champion; two-time Indy 500 winner, 1992 and ’94; two-time IndyCar Champion, 1990 and ’94.
ALEX WURZ – Austria
Retired pro driver; two-time 24 Hours of LeMans winner; F1 consultant, driver coach, president of the GPDA.
JEFF ZWART – Long Beach, Calif.
The 1990 SCCA U.S. Pro Rally Open Class Champion; 2004 Baja 1000 Challenge Class Champion; directs high-performance TV commercials around the world.
The new Associate Members are:
CRAIG BENNETT – Milford, Mich.
The 1987 SCCA National GT-1 Division Champion and Rookie of the Year; currently VP of RM Motorsports (high-end race-car/road-car restorations).
JOHN DOONAN – Plainfield, Ill.
Director of Motorsports for Mazda North American Operations since 2011; licensed race-car driver since 1995, competing in SCCA, IMSA, IndyCar, etc.
DOUG FEHAN – Birmingham, Mich.
Program Manager for Corvette Racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and 24 Hours of LeMans; raced a Chevelle stock car in USAC in late ’60s.
DON KITCH JR. – Bellevue, Wash.
Veteran of more than 25 years and 200 pro and amateur racing starts; founded, with wife Donna, the ProFormance Racing School, where he is chief instructor; helped develop the Team Seattle “Heart of Racing” program at Alex Job Racing.
ED PINK – Van Nuys, Calif.
The drag-racing Hemi engines he’s built over 60-plus years have won races from Midgets to IndyCars; earned Lifetime Achievement Award from Petersen Automotive Museum; also built IMSA, LeMans and NASCAR engines.
The new Honorary Members are:
WALT CZARNECKI JR. – Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
Executive Vice President of Penske Corporation; President and Vice Chairman of the Board of Penske Motorsports since 1996. Has 40-year-plus tenure with Penske.
CHRIS POOK – Long Beach, Calif.
Creator of the annual Grand Prix of Long Beach, in its 43rd year; has also created temporary racing venues in Las Vegas, Dallas, Meadowlands, N.J., Denver, Del Mar, Calif., and St. Petersburg, Fla. Has served on the F1 Commission of FIA.
ANDREW SCRIVEN – Denver, N.C.
Draftsman on the 1984 Tiga Race Cars; produced the 1985 design for the GT285 IMSA Lights/C2 Car; currently is Chief Designer for Aerospace, Military and Racing projects for Crawford Composites, LLC.
The RRDC presents three annual awards: the Phil Hill Award, the Mark Donohue Award, and the Bob Akin Award, and supports the Team USA Scholarship, which has been assisting young Americans in the early stages of their careers since 1990. The RRDC also honors icons of the sport at its annual dinner at the Long Beach (Calif.) Grand Prix. Honorees have been Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones, Roger Penske, Jim Hall, Brian Redman, Mario Andretti, Bobby Unser and George Follmer.