IRL, Indy 500: The Ironies of Racing: Goodyear and Brown Now Teammates
21 May 1999Immediately following the Indianapolis 500 in 1992, Scott Goodyear walked down pit lane holding his wife's hand, tears stinging his eyes. Goodyear, the second place finisher to Al Unser Jr., by only 0.043 seconds, had just come from the last starting position to be met by the disappointment of losing in the closest finish in the 75 runnings of the Memorial Day classic. At that same moment in 1992, Andy Brown was ecstatic that the car he had helped design and engineer was good enough to help Unser hold off Goodyear and was now parked in victory lane.
Fast forward to 1999 and the 83rd running of the Indianapolis 500, Goodyear and Brown arrived at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as teammates. The team comes in to Indy as the Pep Boys Indy Racing League Points Leaders, a win from Phoenix under their belts and high hopes. It looks like 1999 may be different for everyone.
"Seeing a car that I had been involved with win the Indianapolis 500 was the highlight of my career to date," Brown said of the closest finish in Indianapolis 500 history. "Now I would like to help Scott pick up that win at Indianapolis that has eluded him and help the 'Pack' get to victory lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway."
Brown comes to Panther Racing from PacWest where he served as chief engineer/aerodynamicist, and ran the #17 car for Mauricio Gugelmin. At PacWest, Brown helped "Big Mo" achieve seven podium finishes, three poles and one victory as well as leading the most laps in the 1995 Indianapolis 500. The duo finished fourth in the 1997 CART Series Championship, were the fastest average qualifiers over the whole year including the pole at a world speed record of 240.942 mph during the 1997 California 500.
"I'm hoping that the same ingenuity, dedication and skill that Andy utilized to put Al Unser Jr., in victory lane in 1992 will be the ingredient that puts Panther Racing and Pennzoil in victory lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway," Goodyear said of his new engineer. "We have a very aggressive testing program this season and that program has paid off with a win in Phoenix and a second place finish at Orlando."
When Brown first arrived at the Panther Racing shop, he had been carrying around a poster from that 1992 Indianapolis 500 that he had been waiting to frame for over six years. The poster showed Al Jr. just edging Goodyear across the finish line. Al Jr. had signed it, but Goodyear hadn't. Brown had always hoped to have the opportunity to have Goodyear sign it, but he was a little reluctant to ask while he was trying to build his relationship with Goodyear.
"I finally just decided one day that I was going to bring it to work and when Scott came in I was just going to ask him to sign it," Brown recalls. "When I asked him, he looked at me a bit bewildered and said he would sign it only if I agreed to two conditions. First, I had to promise him we would do everything we can to win Indy in 1999. Second, he said that if I ever put it up on the wall I had to hang it upside down so it looked as if Scott was crossing the finish line first!"
"It would be a great gift for both of us," Brown said. "If I could have some small part in changing the tears that were disappointment in 1992 to tears of excitement and accomplishment in 1999 my season would be a success no matter what else we do together."