Matt Brabham sat down with Andrew van Leeuwen to talk about learning to do jumps in a truck, dreams of racing at Bathurst, and the 2016 Indy 500.
MOTORSPORT.COM: In the last 12 months you’ve driven everything, from Formula E, to IndyCar, to Late Model, to Stadium Trucks. Has it been a year where you’ve really started to refine your craft?
MATT BRABHAM: Yeah, it has a bit. The more things you drive, the more experience you get, the better you are at everything. Obviously with the Super Trucks, it’s all about throwing it around. But the car control you learn from it is excellent. And I learnt how to jump too, so that might be useful in the future – although hopefully not.
I think it’s just one of those times in my career where I’m right at the brim of trying to get into a professional sport full-time. I’m trying to get into IndyCar, that’s the pinnacle of road racing in America, so at the moment I just have to wait for the right opportunity – but stay in the game at the same time.
So any opportunity that comes my way I’m saying yes to. I have to jump in and do it so I don’t get too rusty.
Where are you at with next year, in terms of trying to lock something more permanent and ongoing down?
I’m definitely a lot closer than I was last year. Obviously the Indy Lights stuff didn’t quite work out this year; I got in for a couple of races but then ran out of budget to finish of the season.
Going into next year we have a full programme together, and we’re working night and day and throwing everything we have at it. We’ve had way more response this year, going into next year, than we had last year.
Lights as well? Or just IndyCar?
No, focussing just on IndyCar and the Indy 500. Now I’ve done those couple of IndyCar tests I did with Andretti, and got my feet wet, I think I know exactly where I need to be and what I need to do to be competitive in IndyCar.
So it’s more about trying to use all of our resources and everything we have to make sure I get into the Indy 500 next year.
Is the focus to do more than just the Indy 500, though?
Absolutely. The Indy 500 is the focus at the moment, and if we get that done we can start expanding on it. The first thing after that would be the road course at Indy, we’re building that into the programmes and everything we’re trying to do.
We want to get that all tied down, set in stone, and announce it, and then we can start working at trying to get the full season together.
What about other things? Any more Formula E on the horizon?
No, not at the moment. My focus is just IndyCar. If that doesn’t come off, then obviously we’ll have to start looking at other stuff again, like we did this year, and take any opportunity that we can.
But I’m pretty confident we can get it all done for the Indy 500.
Will it be an ongoing relationship with Andretti?
Obviously it’s an ongoing relationship, they’re really nice to me and they’ve been really helpful with my career. I wouldn’t be where I am without them, and they understand that too.
Michael is one of the nicest guys, and he’s always looked after me. But at the end of the day, he’s said to me ‘if any opportunities arrive in any other team, you have to take it. We can’t guarantee you a spot. We understand that, and you have to understand that, so don’t put all your eggs in one basket with us.’
So we have to stay open to other teams in the paddock, and wherever the opportunity lies, we’re going to take it.
What about back in Australia? Any interest of doing some more racing on what is essentially home soil?
Yeah, the Bathurst 12 Hour would be awesome. I’d love to come back and do that.
It doesn’t really clash with any schedules in America, so I’ve been trying to get into it over the last couple of years to get my taste of Bathurst.
I never got that, because Formula Ford never went there, and nothing else I ever raced back here ever went there. So that’s the one thing I want to come back and do.
And it might be easier in a GT car rather than a V8 Supercar…
Absolutely. If I jumped in a V8 Supercar I’d be a little out of my depth there; I haven’t spent too much time in tin-tops, and the guys who race V8 Supercars have really got their niche there, and they’re very good at it. They are specialised in that area, so it makes it tough.
I know that from talking to my dad, and David, guys who have come back and raced V8 Supercars a few times. They know what it takes to get to that level, and it’s hard to do. So if I wanted to do the Bathurst 1000, I feel like I would need to ease into through the Dunlop Series first.