INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Nov. 1, 2002 -- The legendary name of Foyt will drive in the Indianapolis 500 and the Indy Racing League in 2003. A.J. Foyt IV, grandson of four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt, will drive in the Indy Racing League in 2003 for his grandfather's team.
"We are planning on running him," Foyt said. "Right now, it would probably be Anthony and Airton Dare."
Foyt IV, 18, from Hockley, Texas, won the 2002 Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series championship, clinching the championship in his home state by winning the BG Products 100 on Sept. 14 at Texas Motor Speedway. He returned to TMS on Oct. 31 and passed his IRL rookie test in his grandfather's team car.
"It is going to be tough," Foyt IV said. "It is going to be the toughest year in the IRL with all these different teams coming in, plus with all the same teams coming back that are tough. I am up for the challenge, though. I am going to go out there and do the best I can. It will be exciting to go to race day and go out and practice with them."
Foyt is the first driver to climb from the Infiniti Pro Series -- Indy Racing's development series that started in July 2002 -- to the IRL. At 18, he will be the youngest driver in series history.
"I told him this next step is a big one," said four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Foyt. "What else can you say? I started young; he's young. I am sitting on him pretty tight and holding him down. But we will just go from there. Last year, the Pro Series was a big step for him from the (American Continental Formula Ford) 2000 series where he won a lot. He has won in everything he has been in."
The elder Foyt also won in everything he drove, becoming the only man to win the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500 and the LeMans 24 Hour Race. The senior Foyt scored a record 67 Indy-style wins and a record seven Indy-style championships.
As the younger Foyt prepares for the jump to the IRL, he is concentrating on learning the new tracks on which he will compete in 2003. He raced on seven of the 15 IRL tracks during his championship run in the Infiniti Pro Series and won races at four of them, Kansas, Michigan, Kentucky and Texas.
"He has been to most of the tracks," the elder Foyt said. "Richmond, he hasn't been to, and Phoenix, but I tested him there earlier. The biggest adjustment for him will be learning how the other guys race. That is what I want him to know.
"He has a pretty good head on his shoulders. So far, he has done everything we have told him. And, that is the thing with him, he listens really well." Foyt IV indicated he is ready for the challenge of the unfamiliar tracks.
"I think the biggest adjustment will be racing on the smaller tracks with so much horsepower and getting out of the throttle and getting back into it all very easily so I don't get it loose," Foyt IV said. "Plus having all those cars around me going that fast will be a lot different."
Foyt's learning process will be accelerated by teammate Dare, who served as his driving coach during the 2002 Infiniti Pro Series season. Foyt IV also served as Dare's right-front tire changer during the season.
"I think he will really be able to help me next year since he has been to all the tracks and knows what to expect," Foyt IV said. "To have someone like that is going to be a big help to me."
And Foyt is helping himself by setting realistic expectations for his rookie campaign in the IRL.
"I wasn't expecting to have the success I had last year in the Infiniti Pro Series," Foyt said. "So, I am not going into the IRL thinking I am going to win all the races and win the championship.
"I am just going out there to do the best I can and hopefully win a few races and stay up in the top 10 in points."