Foyt, A. J. (1935—)

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Foyt, A. J. (1935—)

A. J. Foyt is one of the premier names in motor sports, having enjoyed an auto racing career that spanned four decades, beginning in the 1950s. No other driver achieved such a unique combination of longevity, dominance, and versatility in motor sports, on which he left a permanent mark wherever he raced. Known as "Supertex" to his many fans, Hoyt gained a reputation for a uniquely tough and aggressive style that brought a new excitement to the sport, and he is probably the most popular driver ever to have run at "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing," the Indianapolis 500.

Anthony Joseph Foyt, Jr. was born on January 16, 1935 in Houston, Texas, where he became familiar with racing cars from an early age. His father owned the Burt and Foyt Garage that specialized in the vehicles, and Foyt had already decided to make a career of racing when he was no more than five years old. By his late teens he was driving midget racers on the Midwestern circuit.

In the years that followed, A. J. Foyt firmly established himself in various aspects of the sport: midgets, sprints, stock cars, sports cars, and Indy cars. He emerged from quarter-mile dirt ovals to become arguably the most dominant driver in the history of the Indianapolis 500. At Indianapolis, Foyt qualified for a record 35 consecutive races, and was the first driver to win Indianapolis four times, a feat later matched only by Al Unser and Rick Mears. By the late 1990s, he still held the record for the most Indy Car wins with 67 victories and has thus far remained the only driver in the history of the sport to win seven national Indy car titles.

Foyt was also highly successful in other areas of car racing. He won the 24 Hours at Le Mans in 1967, captured the 24 Hours at Daytona in 1983 and 1985, and was victorious at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1985. Perhaps one of the most amazing aspects of Foyt's career is that so successful an Indy car driver was also able to achieve victories in major stock car events. After recording 41 wins in United States Auto Club (USAC) stock car racing, he joined the famous Wood Brothers team and became a significant force on the NASCAR circuit, winning seven NASCAR Winston Cup races, including the 1972 Daytona 500. His astonishing record was enhanced even further when he captured the world closed course speed record for an Oldsmobile in 1987, recording a 257-m.p.h. lap in a Quad-4 powered Aerotech.

In 1993, at the age of 58, A. J. Foyt announced his retirement from race-car driving. However, he retained his connection with the sport as a car owner, including his proprietorship of A. J. Foyt Honda in Houston. He also bought several cattle and horse ranches in Texas, and was appointed to the boards of both Riverway Bank and Service Corporation International. He continued living in Houston with his wife Lucy. Of Hoyt's four children, three have followed in their father's footsteps: Jerry pursues a career in stock car racing, Larry races go-carts, and A. J. Foyt IV races junior dragsters.

—James H. Lloyd

Further Reading:

A. J. Foyt: Champion for Life. Videocassette. Greenwich, Connecticut, Cabin Fever Entertainment, 1992.

Engle, Lyle Kenyon. The Incredible A. J. Foyt. New York, Arco, 1977.

Foyt, A. J., and Bill Neeley. A. J. New York, Times Books, 1983.

Libby, Bill. Foyt. New York, Hawthorn Books, 1974.

Motor Sports Hall of Fame "'A. J.' Foyt." March 1999.

Wilker, Josh. A. J. Foyt: Race Car Legends. New York, Chelsea House Publishers, 1996.