Brabham captures first of three Trucks races

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Matt Brabham holds up his trophy after winning Race No. 1 of the Truck series at Belle Isle.

Detroit — Robby Gordon’s Truck series drivers put on a show on Day 1 of race weekend at Belle Isle.

A dozen of the 600-horsepower trucks went upward of 135 mph at different points of the 13-turn, 2.3-mile street course, hitting several of the ramps at 80 mph, soaring 20 feet in the air.

And when the dust settled, Matt Brabham finished Race No. 1, a seven-lap event, first.

“It’s great to be back in the Truck series, it’s so much fun,” Brabham said after his first career series victory less than a week after running in the Indianapolis 500, where the 22-year-old rookie finished 22nd. “It’s really competitive and definitely different from IndyCar. It’s a huge contrast from teetering through corners at 200 mph to yanking it through over jumps.”

Brabham is the grandson of the late Sir Jack Brabham, who won three Formula One championships (1959, 1960, 1966).

Race No. 2 in the series is Saturday, with Race No. 3 set for Sunday.

Arie Luyendyk Jr., who led the first five laps before he was passed by Brabham, finished second, and Troy High School graduate Aaron Bambach was third.

“You know it’s going to be crazy the last couple of laps,” Bambach said. “There’s a lot of beating and banging, pushing and shoving and you have to protect your line. You’re going to expect to get hit a couple of times in the entry of the corners because someone is going to try and move you out of the way and take advantage.

“But I was fortunate enough to just keep it together and hold my own.”

Brabham and Sheldon Creed started in the back of the pack before forcing their way through the field to get into contention. The two were the top qualifiers.

“Early on Sheldon and I were trying to conserve things until the competition yellow,” Brabham said of Lap 3. “I made up a couple of positions, then lost a couple of positions, and I was going back and forth, and then I think I just got a couple of lucky breaks right after the competition yellow.

“We went three wide down the back straight and managed to get Sheldon and (Bambach). Then, when Arie was having a little bit of issues at the end, I managed to catch up and get the win.”

M1 Concourse to open

Bambach, 48, lives in Rochester Hills, and is involved in a new venture in Pontiac — M1 Concourse, which opens next week. He will be in charge of the 1.5-mile test track and driving schools.

“It’s really a wonderful concept where people are buying these car condos and they have access to the track,” he said. “We’re going to be having teenage defensive driving schools on the track, we’re going to have high performance driving schools, something that we’re calling signature experience for people who get to drive multiple makes of vehicles on the track.”

“With 62,000-plus classic cars registered in Michigan, they’re looking for some place to go, so essentially what we’re doing is creating a place for these people to come in.”

Bambach said said the first track event is June 24.

Around the corners

Gordon, the series founder, was out of town preparing to run in the Baja 500 today. He will be competing in Sunday’s Truck race.

... Brabham, on what his grandfather would think of the Truck series: “He’d think it was pretty cool because my grandfather raced everything and he came from midget dirt and he was racing every weekend in Formula 2, Formula 3, sports cars, Formula 1 ... This series would have been perfect for my grandfather in his time.”

... Luyendyk, on what his father, two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk, thinks of the series: “My Dad kind of thinks it’s insane. ... He won’t do it. But he loves it.”

Twitter: @davidgoricki