Matthew Brabham is ready to spread his racing wings and make his European debut this weekend in the final two rounds of the Formula Renault BARC Championship at Silverstone. The opportunity is part of his prize for winning one of the prestigious Team USA Scholarships. The 18-year-old who was born in Florida and raised in Australia has been in England for a week and already has shown promising form in a pair of test sessions for Corby, England-based Cliff Dempsey Racing.
Brabham enjoyed his first taste of the carbon fiber Tatuus chassis last week in wet conditions at Mallory Park, then switched his attention on Wednesday to Silverstone where he will face a strong 32-car field this weekend in support of the British Touring Car Championship headline event. Before he ventured onto the famed airfield circuit, which each year plays host to the British Grand Prix, the recently crowned Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda Champion received a few tips from his uncle, David Brabham, a former British F3 champion and winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“Wednesday was fantastic,” said the younger Brabham. “It was so cool to be at Silverstone and driving on the track. The place has so much history and it was great to have my Uncle David there to show me around. I finally got some dry sessions so it was good to get a feel for the car. It definitely has a lot more grip than what I'm used to in USF2000.
“The test went quite smoothly and we got plenty of laps which really helps. The car felt quite good and I think we are pretty close to the pace. The car looks really awesome in the Team USA colors, along with the matching Sparco suit. It definitely turned a few heads. I'm really looking forward to some tough racing and can't wait for the weekend to get underway!”
Veteran driver-turned-team owner Cliff Dempsey, who guided Team USA Scholarship drivers to victories in the Formula Ford Festival (Josef Newgarden in 2008) and the Walter Hayes Trophy (Conor Daly in 2008 and Connor De Phillippi in 2009), has no doubts about Brabham's ability.
“I think we were third quickest in the test but we won't get too excited yet,” said Dempsey. “I really want to keep calm about this; we have some work to do as Matt is still learning to drive a BARC Formula Renault. I have looked at the data and he definitely has more speed to come. He is a very calm young man which makes my job much easier. To come here having never driven Silverstone, nor even a carbon tub car, I think he has done a great job, especially as his competitors have been driving the cars all year – and quite a few of them for two years.”
Qualifying for Race One on Saturday will take place from 11:20 to 11:55, local UK time, followed by the start of the 18-lap race at 4:30. Race Two on Sunday will start at 3:10. Live timing is available via TSL-Timing.com at http://bit.ly/VCT6yu.
The Team USA Scholarship is supported by Doug Mockett & Company, Road Racing Drivers Club and its ground-breaking SAFEisFAST.com video tutorial initiative, Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, INDYCAR's Mazda Road to Indy, Mazda, Honda Performance Development, NameSilo, Silicon Salvage, McMurry Inc., Parathyroid.com, Dyson Racing, Allen Berg Racing Schools, Seat Time, LLC, PitFit Training, Sparco USA, RACER Magazine, eFormulaCarNews.com, Speedstar Management, Styled Aesthetic and Manifest Group as well as numerous past Scholarship winners.