Friday, May 17, 2019

Scott Brayton Killed In Indy 500 Practice - May 17, 1996

February 20, 1959 – May 17, 1996
Scott Brayton
Born in Coldwater, Michigan, USA.
In 1996, Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Tony George established the Indy Racing League, and Team Menard signed up to compete in their first full season of IndyCar racing. Because the majority of the established teams and drivers of open-wheel racing competed in the rival CART series, Brayton, and rookie teammate Tony Stewart, were considered legitimate contenders for the IRL title. After a bad start to the season, Brayton asserted his competitiveness by winning his second Indy pole after a dramatic qualifying session in which he withdrew an already-qualified car to get a second chance at taking the top spot.

Brayton was making a practice run on May 17 in his backup car when it blew a tire going into turn two, spun and hit the outside retaining wall at more than 230 mph. Brayton's car scrubbed off virtually no speed as it spun, and as the car impacted the wall on its left side, the force was such that Brayton's head also impacted the wall. Brayton was killed instantly by the severe impact. Teammate Tony Stewart, who qualified second, took over the pole starting position. A substitute driver, Danny Ongais, took over the car that Brayton had qualified for the pole and finished seventh.

His funeral, held in his hometown of Coldwater, Michigan, was attended by a large contingent of drivers and racing personalities.

Following Brayton's death, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced a new trophy for the Indianapolis 500 dedicated to the driver who best exemplifies the attitude, spirit and competitive drive of Brayton. A driver could only be awarded the trophy once in his/her Indy career. It was awarded through 2009.

A street course in Grand Rapids, Michigan, used for SCCA racing was known as the Scott Brayton Memorial course. It was used for the West Michigan Grand Prix in 1998 and 1999.

His wife Becky eventually married another IRL driver, Robbie Buhl on Easter Sunday 1999, later a partner in Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.

Scott Brayton, Laguna Seca 1991
(Photo: scott brayton RIP via photopin (license))

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