Matt Brabham is coming off of an impressive Pirelli GT4 America weekend at Sonoma Raceway that saw him charge from last on the grid to fifth in Race 1 and challenge for a podium in Race 2.
This week in the Pirelli Paddock Pass, Brabham fills us in on how the deal with CRP Racing came together, the bright side of having to start at the rear in Race 1, and his future in sports car racing.
When did the opportunity to jump in the car for CRP Racing at Sonoma come about?
It came together before Long Beach because we have a sponsor, and that’s how I got linked up with [CRP Racing team owner] Nick Short in the first place last year.
“Carlisle sponsored me in the Super Trucks, so I drive for them and have been doing quite well in the Super Trucks.
“I had reached out to Nick in the past, the sponsor came on board with Trucks, and then Nick had the same sponsor, as Carlisle owns DeVilbiss which was Nick’s sponsor. It all fell into place and worked out when they needed a driver last year in the GT3 stuff.
“The way it worked for the Long Beach race and the Sonoma race this year was Dave Roberts, who owns the chassis I was driving, has a lot to do with Carlisle.
“He figured out that they could do a really cool thing where they can give back to charity with the HEADstrong Foundation which helps veterans with mental health.
“We did some publicity for them and that’s how we’re doing the Super Trucks stuff this year as well.
“It just worked out that we could do a couple of sports car races, and he wanted to run the Porsche that he owns, so we ran it at Long Beach and were reasonably competitive even though it was the older spec of the car.
“We decided that we should do Sonoma because it suits the car a bit better and we figured we could be more competitive with the newer cars and other brands.”
Were you surprised at how competitive the car proved to be at Sonoma?
“A little bit, yeah. I didn’t have any crazy expectations. It all worked with what we were trying to achieve with HEADstrong and Carlisle, but we were just running our own deal and trying to promote that stuff and didn’t have super high expectations.
“Any time I go to a race track I want to win, that’s the goal, but at the same time I didn’t know where we would stack up. It was quite surprising. I felt like we were really, really strong, but it was great.”
How much fun was it driving from the back of the grid to the front in Race 1?
“It was awesome. It was a little bit of a shame that we had to start in the back. We were just a little bit late to pre-grid after a tight turn around from qualifying and unfortunately we had to start at the back.
“It turned into an awesome race and I had a lot of fun coming back from dead last and into the top five. I really enjoyed that, it was a lot of fun.”
Did that drive help get your name out in front of teams?
“Absolutely. I think I got a lot of positive comments back and a lot of interest from guys in the paddock. I’ve heard some good things.
“There’s some talks to do some more stuff, we’re not sure what exactly we’re going to do, but it’s definitely created some buzz, which is great.
“Starting at the back was not ideal, but at least it showed some of the ability I have, the race craft, the passing. It was positive and negative.
“I just executed because we definitely had a car to be on the podium and I definitely felt like we were the strongest Porsche in race pace.
“We did a really good job of setting up the car and getting the most out of it. At least we put on a great show racing through the field!”
When will we see you back in the SRO America paddock?
“We’re working through everything at the moment to see what we can do, what’s available. We’re planning on doing another race, it’s just a question of where and when and what exactly we’re doing.
“There’s definitely plans on the table to do another race, I’m just not sure where it will be yet.”