There are some names in motorsport that simply stand a cut above all others. Often times, they’re led by a legendary patriarch, a world champion in his discipline whose commitment to the sport is passed down to children and grandchildren. Those second- and third-generation drivers are similarly talented, and sometimes even have the skills to surpass their famous family members.
Thanks to decades of open-wheel and sports-car successes, “Brabham” is one of those iconic names. And third-generation Matthew Brabham is keeping the family name on the top step of the podium.
The Australian-American driver’s pedigree is, of course, incredibly strong. Grandfather Sir Jack Brabham was a three-time Formula 1 world champion who found continued success across the globe as a constructor and engine builder. Father Geoff raced in CART before winning four consecutive IMSA championships from 1988-1991, while both Geoff and uncle David have each won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in their respective careers.
But the third-generation Brabham has paved his own path over the past few years. He started on the Mazda Road to Indy in 2012, with the goal of following in his family’s footsteps and competing in the Indianapolis 500 as a third-generation driver. After winning the US F2000 and Pro Mazda championships in back-to-back years and placing fourth in Indy Lights in 2014, he realized that dream in 2016 as part of PIRTEK Team Murray. Running in equipment prepared by KV Racing Technology, Brabham kicked off the month by finishing 16th in the Indy Grand Prix and completed all but one lap in the 100th edition of the iconic 500-mile race.
It’s Brabham’s performance in Stadium Super Trucks, though, that has commanded the most attention.
After serving as Andretti Autosport’s reserve driver in Formula E and competing in the first three Indy Lights races of 2015 for the team, Brabham received a last-minute invitation from Robby Gordon to compete in Stadium Super Trucks at Honda Indy Toronto. Despite having no experience in the trucks, Brabham drove to finishes of sixth and fourth on the doubleheader weekend, and earned an invitation back to the series for a five-race Australian swing in October.
His potential established with two podium finishes at Surfers Paradise and in Sydney, Brabham committed to the full 2016 SST season and hasn’t looked back since. His epic 2016 run saw him finish in the top five in every single race, taking his first and second victories in Detroit and adding another win in Toronto on the way to second in the final standings. 2017 was another strong season, with five more wins and another runner-up championship finish, just one point shy of Paul “The Dude” Morris.
2018, though, is shaping up to be Brabham’s year. Six races in, he’s only missed the podium once, and currently holds a 35-point lead over Gavin Harlien entering this weekend’s doubleheader at Barbagallo Raceway. He’s already posted the top time in Friday’s qualifying session, beating Gordon to the pole by 0.119 seconds in preparation for Saturday’s Round 7 action.
Right now, it’s not Formula 1 like his grandfather, and it’s not sports cars like his father and uncle. But the message that Brabham has sent to the racing world is clear: winning—even dominating—whatever championship he’s in is simply in his blood.