The Story Of A.J. Foyt

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.”

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Few other drivers were as formidable on or off track—or as successful in as many different racing disciplines—as A.J. Foyt.

Few other drivers were as formidable on or off track—or as successful in as many different racing disciplines—as A.J. Foyt. Photo courtesy Racemaker Press

 

 

 

 

At the 1981 Michigan 500, Foyt hit the outside guardrail and had to be cut from his car. Suffering compound fractures of his right arm, he required surgery at the University of Michigan Medical Center.

At the 1981 Michigan 500, Foyt hit the outside guardrail and had to be cut from his car. Suffering compound fractures of his right arm, he required surgery at the University of Michigan Medical Center. Photo by Randy Gulley/Racemaker Press

 Report by hagerty.com

 

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