Indianapolis 500 Legend: A.J. Foyt

Anthony Joseph Foyt Jr. was born January 16, 1935 in Houston Texas.  He is a retired race car driver and the adopted father of Larry Foyt, a semi-retired NASCAR and IRL driver, and the grandfather of A.J. Foyt IV, an IZOD IndyCar Series regular since 2003.  Currently he owns and operates A.J. Foyt Enterprises.

Racing Career:

Foyt began his United States Auto Club (USAC) career in Anderson, Indiana in 1956 at the “Night Before the 500” race.  Even though he drove a poorly funded car, his talent was so immediately obvious Foyt landed a ride in the USAC Sprint Car Series racing midget cars.  He spent one season learning the ropes and then jumped to Championship Car (the precursor to CART).

Over the course of his 30-plus years racing, he recorded 67 victories and 201 Top-Ten finishes in 374 races. He’s a member of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame, and the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame.  He was also named to NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers list in 1998 — even though he never competed full-time in the series.  He is the only driver to win the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500, the 24 Hours of Daytona, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.  In total, he recorded 12 major driving championships during his career.

A.J. Foyt winning the Indy 500

All the accolades didn’t come without pain however. While racing in a NASCAR event at Riverside International Raceway, Foyt spun near the end of the race and flipped end-over-end.  The track doctor pronounced him dead on the scene, but fellow driver Parnelli Jones saw movement from Foyt and revived him.  Foyt’s injuries included a broken back, a fractured ankle, and severe chest injuries.  He would recover, and despite suffering numerous other debilitating injuries over the years, Foyt remained a driver until 1994.

Indy Career

Foyt made his debut at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1958, starting 12th and finishing 16th.  He would not miss a race at Indy for the next 34 years.  He first had his face engraved on the Borg Warner Trophy in 1961, and by 1967 he already had taken three checkered flags.  Over the next 10 years Foyt would sit on the pole three times, and finish third twice, but he didn’t cross the yard of bricks first again until 1977.  That would be his last victory as a driver in Speedway, Indiana, though he did remain competitive up until his retirement — Foyt had three Top-10 finishes in his last four races at IMS.  He holds the record for most career starts (35), most races led (13), and most wins (4), a record he shares with Rick Mears and Al Unser Sr.

Foyt also competed in the Brickyard 400 several times.

Post Racing Career

Foyt co-owned a team with Jim Gilmore during his driving days, racing under the name Gilmore-Foyt Racing, but upon his retirement, he started A.J. Foyt Enterprises, which competed in the CART Series.  He would move to the Indy Racing League when the two leagues split, and his driver Scott Sharp took home a share of the 1996 points title.  Kenny Brack won the 1998 title outright, and in 1999 gave A.J. his fifth trip to the winner’s circle at the Indianapolis 500.  His current driver is Vitor Meira.

A.J. Foyt discusses his racing career

Other Indianapolis Racing Legends:

Scott Dixon | Helio Castroneves | Dan Wheldon | Michael Andretti | Dario Franchitti |

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