SVRA Trophies Honor Watson & Brabham
SOUTHLAKE, Texas – The Sportscar Vintage Racing Ass’n will award four trophies to recognize well-prepared cars and outstanding examples of history at its June 6-8 Brickyard Invitational vintage racing event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Two awards honor legendary figures who shaped the sport: mechanic and car builder A.J. Watson and three-time Formula One World Champion Sir Jack Brabham. Both giants passed away last month. The A.J. Watson Tribute Trophy for the best Indy roadster was announced two weeks ago.
There will be a total of four such trophies during the weekend. In addition to the Watson Trophy, SVRA officials will present awards for “best of show,” “best pre-war racer” and the “Sir Jack Brabham Commemorative Trophy.” The Brabham award is for the best example of a Brabham race car. Brabham is the only Formula One driver to win the championship in a car of his own construction. He was the first driver to be knighted for his motor racing accomplishments which include 14 Formula One race wins and four Formula Two titles to complement his three world championships. Brabham also left his mark on the Indianapolis 500. A four-time starter he drove a Cooper-Climax to ninth place in first try in 1961. Woefully underpowered but extremely fast in the corners the rear-engine machine convinced many that the end of the front engine roadster was at hand. The car’s performance proved prophetic as rear engine cars became the design of choice winning in 1965 and every year since.
“Sir Jack Brabham’s passing touched us personally at SVRA as his son Geoff, an outstanding champion in his own right, was originally scheduled to drive in our ‘Indy Legends’ Pro-Am with 26 Indianapolis 500 veterans,” said SVRA President and CEO Tony Parella. “Geoff had to be with his family in Australia and that is where he needs to be. Our warmest thoughts are with the Brabham family and we hope this trophy demonstrates that.”
The SVRA also announced that four Indianapolis 500 veterans will serve as judges for the Watson Trophy. The judges are Jerry Sneva, Bob Harkey, Mel Kenyon and Eldon Rasmussen. Indianapolis Motor Speedway Chief Historian and Auto Racing Hall of Fame Member Donald Davidson will lead the team.
The Brickyard Invitational weekend will be the largest gathering of race cars ever assembled for competition in America. The SVRA has 11 groups of cars spanning 100 years of vintage machines and all will be in action at IMS. Most of the races will take place on the Speedway’s 2.43-mile Grand Prix road course but for the first time in history cars will be at speed on both the world-famous 2.5-mile oval and the road course on the same day. All cars will have a chance to tour the oval at speed, including the crowd-favorite 1950’s-vintage Indianapolis 500 “roadsters.”
Parnelli Jones, who won the 1963 Indianapolis 500 in a Watson roadster, will serve as Brickyard Invitational Grand Marshal for the weekend.
Indianapolis 500 winners Al Unser Jr. and Buddy Lazier head a field of impressive names, all veterans of the great race, for the Indy Pro-Am. These include former Indianapolis 500 Rookies-of-the-Year Lyn St. James and Robby McGehee as well as Willy T. Ribbs, Mark Dismore, Scott Goodyear, Alex Lloyd, Johnny Parsons Jr., Davey Hamilton, Bob Lazier, Jaques Lazier, Robby Unser, Pete Halsmer, Rocky Moran, Eliseo Salazar, Dick Simon, Scott Harrington, Jack Miller, Rick Treadway, Spike Gehlhausen, Billy Roe, Tom Bagley, John Martin and Eldon Rasmussen.