The completed restoration of Mario Andretti’s 1965 Brawner Hawk unveiled
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When Ray Evernham chose the 21st annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance to debut his restoration of the car that took Mario Andretti to the 1965 USAC National Championship and Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year award, he knew it was a special car for such a prestigious show.
The 2016 Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance held from March 11 to 13 at The Golf Club of Amelia Island at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. The show’s Foundation has donated over $2.75 million to Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, Inc. and other charities on Florida’s First Coast since its inception in 1996.
Ray Evernham, left and Jim McGee, right
Evernham’s painstakingly accurate restoration of Mario Andretti’s Brawner Hawk was led by four-time Indianapolis 500-winning crew chief Jim McGee with Steve Panarites, with the four camshaft Ford engine built by Joe Boghosian. The car which retains 80% of the original chassis, bodywork and drivetrain appeared at the 2016 Amelia Island Concours exactly as it did in May 1965 when Andretti won the Stark-Wetzel 'Rookie of the Year' award after a third place finish in the 49th running of the Memorial Day classic.
The Brawner Hawk was given the recognition it deserved by the concours judges, as it was awarded ‘Best in Class – Race Cars from 1961 to 1967’ and the Phil Hill Restorer’s Award, created to honor the artisan whose restoration of a classic, antique, historic or competition car is judged the best new restoration in its first concours appearance.
“I’ve been a lifelong fan of Mario Andretti. I watched him race growing up and have always admired his talent, his business leadership, his commitment to philanthropy and his passion for the sport,” said Evernham. “To be able to restore his rookie Indy Car was truly a special opportunity. I can’t thank Jim McGee enough for leading the restoration of the car and am thrilled the Brawner Hawk was not only recognized for its historical significance but also for all of the effort Jim and the team put into it.”
“From the historian’s point of view, Ray Evernham’s 1965 Brawner Hawk is a pivotally important car,” said Bill Warner, founder and Chairman of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. “It crystalizes a moment of monumental change in American race car design and construction: a true ‘technological changing of the guard’ -- the first American-built rear engine car to win the national championship.”
The exciting news for racing historians is that the 1965 Brawner Hawk’s next stop will be Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Indianapolis 500 race weekend, where Mario Andretti will once again get behind the wheel of his rookie Indy Car for the first time in nearly 50 years.Information and photographs used in the article were provided by Deborah L. Robinson at Victory Management Group PR