Speed Kings: Australia and New Zealand's Quest To Win The Indy 500

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The Indianapolis 500, the greatest spectacle in motorsport, has been a quest for Australians since the first race in 1911.

It has been won by an Australian only once - in 2018 by Toowoomba-born Will Power. More than a century before, Rupert Jeffkins, Australia's first international racing driver, came within two laps (five miles) of winning the second Indy ever held.

He and Ralph De Palma created legend when they pushed their car to the finish line after it blew up while leading.

In between Jeffkins and Power, another 10 Australians have attempted to win the world's greatest motor race.

Jack Brabham, Australia's three times world champion was the greatest agent of change Indianapolis has ever known. He changed the Brickyard (the surface was constructed of 3.2 million paving bricks) forever in 1961 when he raced his rear engine Cooper Climax against the monstrous front engine Indy cars of the time.

He drove through the blinding smoke of a fiery crash in which two drivers were killed but his tyres failed. He finished ninth, but from 1964, spurred by Brabham's innovation, a front engine car never won again.

In fact, the Indy has been challenged by three generations of Brabham. Jack's son Geoff was fourth in 1983. Geoff's son Matt debuted in 2016.

Australians at Indy provides the opportunity to write about Australian motor racing ambition around the world. It will be a deep and compelling dive into those who've raced at the Brickyard - and also into those who didn't, focusing on why Mark Webber and Daniel Ricciardo never took up the challenge.

It explores not only the Aussies and Kiwis to have competed in the race on the track, but off it as well - the likes of Barry and Kim Green and Steve Horne also feature.

And of course, 2008 Indy 500 winner, Brisbane-born Kiwi Scott Dixon features prominently in this publication.

This is the third title John Smailes has written for Allen & Unwin, following on from his books that focused on the 1968 London to Sydney Marathon and Mount Panorama.