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A. J. Foyt - Born To Drive

tony father race quickly

Anthony Joseph Foyt Jr. was born January 16, 1935, in Houston, Texas. Foyt's father, Tony, a mechanic and auto racer himself, owned Burt and Foyt Garage, which specialized in race cars. Foyt quickly became interested in the sport. When he was three years old, Tony built him a small open-wheel racecar to drive around their backyard. When he was five, Tony built him a midget-type racer and arranged a three-lap duel between Foyt and Doc Cossey, a local adult racer, at the Houston Speed Bowl. Foyt won the duel, and decided that he wanted to race cars for the rest of his life.

Foyt adored his father and strove to earn his approval. Yet, no matter how hard Foyt tried or how good he became in a race car, Tony never praised his son, which made Foyt work even harder. While Foyt adored his father, he also feared him. Tony was a tough man with a wild temper, which Foyt experienced on several occasions,

A.J. Foyt

such as when he was eleven, and he and some friends stole his father's midget racecar off of its trailer. They drove it around the yard until the engine burst into flames. While this was bad, the highest offense in Tony's eyes was lying. When Foyt was sixteen, he and some friends went hot-rodding through Houston in his 1950 Ford, until the police saw them and chased them. Foyt and his friends ditched the car, then Foyt lied to his father, saying that it had been stolen. When Tony found out the truth from the police, he imposed the strongest punishment he could think of by taking away Foyt's car for a year. Lessons like these helped Foyt to become an honest, loyal person, both on and off the track.

However, it was his tough-as-nails attitude and flat-out driving style that quickly distinguished Foyt in his races. After leaving high school during his junior year to pursue racing full-time, he quickly became the best-known driver in Texas. This was as much for his dressing style as his racing prowess. For every race, Foyt would wear silk shirts and fancy white pants, which earned him the nickname, "Fancy Pants." When he was twenty, Foyt married Lucy Zarr, and the two began attending the Indianapolis 500 as spectators. In 1957, Foyt joined the United States Auto Club (USAC) racing circuit.

A. J. Foyt - The Move To Indy Cars [next]

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