IRL: Indy 500: Roth Racing's Winkle wins Clint Brawner Award

Roth Racing's Winkle Collects Clint Brawner Mechanical Excellence Award INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 27, 2004) -- Long odds faced Roth Racing from the moment it decided to make a bid at participating in the 2004 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. The team...

Roth Racing's Winkle Collects Clint Brawner Mechanical Excellence Award

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 27, 2004) -- Long odds faced Roth Racing from the moment it decided to make a bid at participating in the 2004 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

The team budget was miniscule compared to most other teams in Gasoline Alley. A crew had to be hastily assembled to man the project. The outfit's lone racecar arrived "in a box" and was constructed with little assistance.

Once the month of May began, driver and team owner Marty Roth struggled to reach the speeds most others were consistently clocking -- a source of concern and criticism from some outside the program. Yet the team led by chief mechanic Charles "Butch" Winkle persevered, unwavering in its objective to qualify for the 88th running of the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing." That goal was met Sunday, when Roth qualified into the 11th row for this year's race.

To honor the crew's commitment to qualifying the car, chief mechanic Winkle was named today the 18th recipient of the Clint Brawner Mechanical Excellence Award. The award is presented annually by the Clint Brawner Foundation to the Indianapolis 500 chief mechanic who "exemplifies the mechanical and scientific creativity, ingenuity, perseverance, dedication, enthusiasm and expertise" of legendary namesake Clint Brawner. The late Brawner was chief mechanic on winning cars in 51 AAA and USAC national championship races, and guided six season champions.

For the past eight years, Firestone Racing has sponsored the Brawner award -- which includes a commemorative plaque and $5,000 check to the winner. Winkle also will have his name added to the list of recipients on a permanent trophy located in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum.

"This is a tremendous honor and I'd like to thank the Brawner Foundation and Firestone," said Winkle, 48 and a racing mechanic for nearly 25 years. "Getting Marty's car into this year's race was a great challenge, but the crew kept working harder and harder until we made it. For me to be linked with Clint Brawner and the other great mechanics who have won this award before is one of the highlights of my career."

Winkle is a native of Winchester, Ind., and began a lifelong love for racing at the famous short oval there while growing up. Over the years he has worked for great drivers such as Al Unser Jr., Scott Goodyear, Danny Sullivan, Bobby Rahal and the late Greg Moore. But Winkle was forced to rely on all of his experience in helping Roth make the show this year, and in keeping the crew focused on the task at hand.

"Not many people can get in a car here and be fast the first time," Winkle said. "It took Marty a little longer to find out this place is a lot more difficult than he thought, but he got the job done. Keeping the crew's morale up was the hardest part. We just had to remember to put egos and pride aside, and work through it. We kept working at it and working at it."

It's that attitude of never giving up that is so reminiscent of Clint Brawner, and the main reason Winkle was named the award winner. He was to receive the plaque and check today from Dale Harrigle, Firestone Racing Project Engineer, and Carl Gehlhausen, Brawner Foundation member, in a ceremony at the IMS "yard of bricks" prior to Carburetion Day practice.

"Butch is a most deserving recipient of the Brawner award," Harrigle said. "He would not let the so-called popular opinion let the team stray from its goal when it was struggling the most. The driver and crew remained on track and overcame the obstacles to qualify for this year's race. We commend them for the effort."

-roth racing-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Scott Goodyear , Bobby Rahal , Marty Roth , Greg Moore