Vern Schuppan on board with Matt Brabham

Photo: PIRTEK Team Murray
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Vern Schuppan will become part of PIRTEK Team Murray’s inner sanctum for the 100th running of the Indy 500, the team announced this weekend.

The Formula 1 veteran finished third in the 1981 Indy 500, which one of three times he competed in the event. He will mentor third-generation Matt Brabham as that driver tries to become the top rookie of the 500.

“We have been friends with the Brabham family for many years through racing and I have followed Matt’s career with interest over the last two or three seasons,” said Schuppan.

If Brabham can become the Indy 500 rookie-of-the year, he will be only the second Australian to do so. Schuppan won those honors in his first attempt in 1976.

Based on his experience as a former rookie of the year, Schuppan added “the next couple of months will be a bit of a blur for him, but he is smart enough and has a genuine desire to be successful in American open-wheel racing.”

A resident of Adelaide, South Australia, Schuppan met with Brabham last month while the 22-year-old driver was competing in a Stadium Super Trucks support race for the Clipsal 500. Brabham finished third in that race.

Brabham was grateful for the mentoring. “I’m lapping up every piece of advice and I’m sure it will all come in handy at various stages during the Month of May,” he said.

Schuppan’s third-place finish in the 1981 Indy 500 marked the best result by an Australian in the May classic until Will Power finished second to Juan Pablo Montoya last year.

Notably, 1981 was the same year Matt’s father Geoff Brabham made his first of 10 Indy 500 starts.

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Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.