Andy Brown has been away from the Verizon IndyCar Series since 2008 as a race engineer, but will take a break from his own business, ACB Consultancy, Ltd. to lead the engineering half for Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year candidate Matthew Brabham’s entry in both the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the 100th Indy 500, presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, for Pirtek Team Murray.
The addition of the highly respected engineer, who has been featured in both Formula One and IndyCar racing for over three decades, bolsters the hopes for the KV Racing-backed No. 61 Chevrolet team, which will face stiff opposition from Chip Ganassi Racing’s Max Chilton, Andretti-Herta Autosport’s Alexander Rossi, among others for the coveted newcomer’s award next month. A native of Great Britain, Brown joined the successful March Engineering firm in 1984, a group that built several successful IndyCar designs from 1981 through 1990. The March chassis was so successful, that even Roger Penske took a break from entering his own cars to run Marches, claiming three of his record 16 Indianapolis 500 wins as a team car owner with the British-built design.
After his tenure with March, Brown moved on to Formula One engineering in 1991 with the Brabham team and fellow British native Martin Brundle. However, with Brabham starting to fade into the darkness of the sport (they officially disbanded the following year), Brown moved on join Alan Mertens with Galmer Engineering. Alongside Mertens, they provided Rick Galles’ squad with an IndyCar design in 1992, which although was not the fastest on the circuit, it was good enough to earn Al Unser, Jr. his first Indy 500 win over Scott Goodyear in the closest finish in the history of the race.
With plenty of car design experience under his belt, Brown decided to enter the sport with an official team rather than solely as a behind the scenes member. Brown joined forces with Bruce McCaw and Dominic Dobson to form PacWest Racing in 1994, a team that fielded two-car efforts in 1994 and 1995 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. After struggling in their debut year with Dobson and former SCCA Trans-Am champion Scott Sharp, the team was a serious factor in the race the following year. Mauricio Gugelmin qualified sixth for the 79th running of the Indianapolis 500 and went on to lead three times for 59 laps, more than any driver. Although handling problems relegated the Brazilian to sixth place at the finish, the effort was coupled by an equally stout performance by 1985 Indy 500 champion Danny Sullivan who finished ninth.
Following the CART/Indy Racing League split in 1996, Brown stayed with PacWest through their first victory win Mark Blundell at Portland, Oregon in 1997. In addition to the win at Portland, Brown also engineered the first car in American open wheel racing history to post an official qualifying lap in excess of 240 miles per hour, performed by Gugelmin at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
In 1999, Brown shifted over to the IRL joining Scott Goodyear and Panther Racing. However, Brown’s expertise would remain relatively quiet until the John Barnes-run squad hired Sam Hornish, Jr. in 2001. With Brown’s support, the Ohio-native would claim back to back IndyCar championships. Brown’s most reason success came between 2006 and 2008, serving as the race engineer for two-time Indy 500 champion Dan Wheldon at Chip Ganassi Racing.
After taking time off from race engineering to eventually form ABC Consulting Ltd. in 2011, the nature of the 100th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing was enough to lure Brown back to the pit box, a move which could help KV Racing greatly, particularly focusing on the fact that KV’s full-time entry with Sebastien Bourdais driving, was the slowest Chevrolet-powered Dallara DW12 in qualifying for last weekend’s Phoenix Grand Prix. In addition to Brown’s inclusion on the squad, KV Racing is also expected to expand to a three-car entry at Indianapolis next month, as reports suggest the team may hire Indy 500 veteran Sebastian Saavedra, with financial backing from Gary Peterson and AFS Racing. If set in stone, the addition would re-unite Saavedra and Bourdais, who were teammates for Dragon Racing in 2013.
Stay tuned to OnPitRoad.com for further news and updates on the Road to the Indianapolis 500.