The Story Of A.J. Foyt
- May 2, 2018
- Posted by Marc Enger
Le Mans, France — Fifty years ago last June, on this very spot in central France, A.J. Foyt completed one of the most remarkable odysseys in racing history.
Less than a week after winning the Indianapolis 500 for the third time in seven years, he flew to Le Mans to race a car he’d never driven on a track he’d never seen. Yet despite a mere 10 laps of practice, Foyt romped to victory with co-driver Dan Gurney in their Ford GT40 Mark IV. Ford’s 1967 triumph over Ferrari at Le Mans is often described as the high-water mark of American involvement in international motorsports. But for Foyt, it was just another milestone in the greatest motorsports highlight reel ever compiled.
The numbers don’t lie: A record-tying four Indy 500 trophies. Sixty-seven Indy-car wins, still a record. Seven Indy-car championships, ditto. Three United States Auto Club (USAC) stock-car titles. Two IROC championships. A USAC sprint-car championship. Twenty-eight USAC midget wins. A win at the Daytona 500, two at the 24 Hours of Daytona, one in the 12 Hours of Sebring. Ovals and road courses. Pavement and dirt. High-banks and flat tracks. “He was the yardstick you measured yourself against when I was coming up. If you were going to win a race, you had to go through him,” says Mario Andretti, who went on to have a pretty fair career himself. “One way to evaluate your wins is by who you beat. If you won, and Foyt was second, that was a cause for celebration. And if you finished second to Foyt, that wasn’t a bad day, either.”