Brawner-Ford Hawk No. 2, 1969
Mario Andretti’s Indianapolis 500 Victory Car
The STP Brawner Hawk, winner of the 1969 Indianapolis 500, represents race car driver Mario Andretti’s only Indianapolis 500 victory, the first Indy 500 win for sponsor STP Corporation, and the first win for STP CEO Andy Granatelli, who had pursued victory there for 23 years.
This Brawner Hawk MK III race car, originally equipped with a 700-horsepower, turbocharged Ford dual overhead cam V-8 engine, represented the culmination of Clint Brawner’s race car design and fabrication work in the 1960s. Brawner had made a name for himself refining front-engine racing roadsters before moving on to the new rear-engine race car configuration in the mid-1960s.
In 1965, a Brawner Hawk sponsored by Dean Van Lines carried Mario Andretti to a third-place Indy 500 finish, earning him Rookie of the Year honors. During the next season, Brawner refined his design by adding spoilers to the front and rear, creating the Hawk MK II. For the 1969 season, he built the MK III version, which featured a full monocoque chassis consisting of a body that was a stressed part of the structure, rather than merely a covering of the frame, and cutting-edge aerodynamics.
Andy Granatelli and STP became the sponsors going into the 1969 Indianapolis 500. Brawner argued that the Hawk MK III was a major contender to win, but it became a back-up car because Granatelli had more faith in the speeds attainable by a four-wheel drive Lotus 64 chassis. However, in a practice run before the big race, with Andretti behind the wheel of a Lotus, a suspension part broke, the car lost a wheel, and it hit the wall. Andretti walked away from the wreck with only minor facial burns, but Granatelli's other Lotuses were withdrawn from the race because of concerns over the strength of their hub supports. The crew spent the next week preparing the Hawk MK III to race in the Indy 500.
When the green flag dropped on May 30, 1969, Andretti led the race for the first five laps, temporarily fell back into the pack, and then took control of the race. He led for 116 laps and took the checkered flag. Andretti also set a 500-mile record with an average speed of 156.867 miles per hour.
Late to the ball, so to speak, but ultimately triumphant, the Brawner Hawk earned the nickname "Cinderella car."