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.