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A. J. Foyt - The Move To Indy Cars

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The same year, Foyt qualified for his first Indy car race. In 1958, he made his debut at the Indianapolis 500, where he finished 16th. The 1958 Indianapolis 500 was a dangerous event, which started out with a fourteen-car pileup and ended with a death and eight cars knocked out of commission. Foyt barely escaped injury himself, sliding backwards almost a thousand feet on an oil slick and avoiding a near crash. For Foyt, racing Indy cars, especially at Indianapolis—the premier auto-racing venue at the time—was a dream come true.

The next two decades intensified that dream, and not just in Indy cars. Success came quickly for Foyt, who dominated the Indy car circuit. In 1960, Foyt won his first Indy car race, then went on to win three more races that season as well as the national Indy car championship. In 1961, at twenty-six, Foyt won his first Indianapolis 500, setting a new average-speed record for the race in the process. He also won his second national Indy car championship and won a record twenty United States Auto Club (USAC) races during the year. As a testament to his versatility, these races included midget cars, sprint cars, and Indy cars. The next year, he won his first USAC stock car race, proving that he could drive all of the major varieties of racecars. In 1963 and 1964, he won his third and fourth national Indy car championships. In the latter year, he also won his second Indianapolis 500, once again breaking the race record for average speed. In addition, in the 1964 season, he won a record ten races, out of only thirteen starts.

In 1965, Foyt won a record ten pole positions, including the pole at the Indianapolis 500. In 1967, he repeated his impressive performance from 1964, once again winning the Indianapolis with a record average speed, and once again winning the national Indy car championship. By this point, Foyt had won countless races and championships in Indy cars, stock cars, midget cars, and sprint cars. Foyt seemed truly unstoppable when it came to racing, and it was at this point that he extended his dominance outside of America. In 1967, Foyt and fellow American racer Dan Gurney teamed up to race in France's 24 Hours of Le Mans, an endurance road race that is widely considered by Europeans to be their version of the Indianapolis 500. Foyt and Gurney won the event, becoming the first Americans to do so, and in the process they beat the track record by the largest margin in Le Mans history.

The next year, Foyt continued his pattern of scoring championship victories in radically different racing events, by winning his first USAC stock car championship. In 1972, he won the crown jewel of stock car racing, the Daytona 500. The same year, he also won the USAC dirt car championship. In the late 1970s, now in his early forties, Foyt continued to score victories. In 1975, he won his sixth national Indy car championship. In 1977, he won his record fourth Indianapolis 500. In 1978, he won the USAC stock car championship. In 1979, he won his record seventh national Indy car championship. He also became the first driver to win USAC's national Indy car and stock car championships in the same season.

Chronology

1935 Born January 16 in Houston, Texas
1938 Father builds him a small race car to drive around the backyard
1955 Marries Lucy Zarr
1957 Wins first USAC (United States Auto Club) midget race
1958 Finishes 16th in his first Indianapolis 500
1959 Wins first USAC sprint car race
1960 Wins first Indy car race at the Duquoin 100
1962 Wins first USAC stock car race
1964 Wins first NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) race
1965 Breaks his back and foot during the Riverside Motor Trend 500 NASCAR race and is presumed dead by medics who arrive on the scene
1965 Ten weeks later, he wins the pole at a Phoenix Indy car event
1966 Sustains severe burns in an Indy car during practice
1972 Sustains burns and a broken leg in a dirt car race in Duquoin, Illinois
1981 Fractures right arm at Michigan 500
1981 Mother dies of heart failure on the night that Foyt qualifies for Indianapolis 500
1983 Father dies of cancer on the night that Foyt qualifies for Indianapolis 500
1983 Breaks two vertebrae during practice; nevertheless, he wins the Paul Revere 250 sports car race the same night
1988 Fined $5,000 and suspended from the NASCAR circuit for six months after he nearly hits several race officials with his car at the Winston 500
1990 Sustains serious leg injuries in Indy car race in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
1992 Races in last Indy car race at the Indianapolis 500
1993 Announces his retirement from Indy car racing shortly before he is scheduled to qualify for the Indianapolis 500
1994 Competes in his last NASCAR Winston Cup race at the Brickyard 400
1996 As a team owner, wins first Indy Racing League title with driver Scott Sharp
1998 As a team owner, wins second Indy Racing League title with driver Kenny Brack
1999 As a team owner, wins Indianapolis 500 with driver Kenny Brack

While many men in their mid-forties start slowing down, Foyt sped up. In 1981, Foyt won the Pocono 500. This victory was his record ninth victory in 500-mile Indy car races. While Foyt continued to race Indy cars for another twelve years, the 1981 Pocono 500 was the last Indy car victory in his career. However, the same was not true in other areas of his racing. In 1983, Foyt won the 24 Hours of Daytona, a tough endurance race for anybody, but especially for a man pushing fifty. As if to prove that this wasn't a fluke, Foyt won the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1985, two years later. From this point on, Foyt did not win any more races, although he participated in several, and remained competitive against racers half his age. In 1992, he set his last record when he qualified for his 35th consecutive Indianapolis 500. This was also his last Indy car race before he announced his retirement shortly before the 1993 Indianapolis 500. Foyt's retirement did not spell the end of racing for the Foyts, however. Foyt gained a passion for the sport through his father, Tony. Likewise, Foyt has passed the auto-racing bug down to other members of his family, including his grandson, A. J. Foyt IV, who is one of the new sensations in auto racing.

A. J. Foyt - Chronology [next] [back] A. J. Foyt - Born To Drive

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over 10 years ago

Very good information.

I am a big fan of AJ's I have been looking fo any photos of Foyt in, by or next to a USAC Stock Car. Any help?