The No. 83 that Matthew Brabham carried while winning the Pro Mazda Championship will also adorn his Andretti Autosport Indy Lights car.

Brabham Gears Up for Indy Lights

Matthew Brabham’s white and turquoise United Fiber & Data/MAZDASPEED Andretti Autosport car will carry the No. 83 in his inaugural season in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires. But the No. 83 and the Brabham name have a connection much longer than the 19-year-old IndyCar hopeful.

“The first time I raced go-karts I was in the 83,” says Brabham, the American-born, Australian-reared driver. “It was my dad’s number when he was racing in the IMSA GTP days. It’s kind of a weird thing with my family, between just my mom, myself and my dad.”

If one of the trio races on four wheels, they use 83. If it’s racing on two wheels or less, as Matthew does with when he competes in BMX, it’s flipped to 38.

Brabham signed with Andretti Autosport in October, and is one of three members of the Brabham gene pool currently competing in some form of racing. Nicknamed “Matty Brabs,” he has raced since age 7 in the Australian Midget go-karting class. While his family has deep racing roots with his Hall of Fame father Geoff Brabham and grandfather Sir Jack Brabham, a three-time Formula 1 champion, it was from the maternal side of his family that he first remembers experiencing competition.

“I don’t even know how old I was. But standing on the side of the beach at Lake Havasu for the (International Jet Sports Boating Association) World Finals and watching my mom race jet skis was fun,” Brabham says.

Brabham has since conquered every racing challenge on his way up the Mazda Road to Indy ladder. In 2012, after moving to Florida, he won the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda with four wins and seven more podium finishes. He followed that in Pro Mazda Championship with a record 13 wins, including a record seven victories in a row.

“My dad and my family have been in racing for so long and they’re very good and very supportive of how to go about things,” says Brabham, who turns 20 on Feb. 25. “Having a family like that, they try to keep you as humble as possible.”

Brabham has tested in the Indy Lights car, most recently at Barber Motorsports Park. Those sessions saw Brabham learning just how different his new car is from previous rides.

“I found for me the biggest thing going from USF2000 to Mazda Pro was the power,” Brabham explains. “I would go on the throttle and the car would take off and my head would hit the back of the seat. I was completely blown away.”

Now, on a bigger stage with higher stakes, he finds himself having to learn to control a bigger car with even more horsepower – a lot more – and much more traction.

“When you turn in a corner, it has a lot of downforce and the car is really grippy,” he described. “Comparing it to a Mazda Pro (car), it feels like there’s a train behind you pushing you into the corner.”