FOYT EARNS ANOTHER HONOR AS 'DRIVER OF THE CENTURY' Associated Press joins ESPN in celebrating skill of four-time Indy 500 winner INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Dec. 15, 1999 - As the 21st century rapidly approaches, the consensus choice as...
FOYT EARNS ANOTHER HONOR AS 'DRIVER OF THE CENTURY' Associated Press joins ESPN in celebrating skill of four-time Indy 500 winner
INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Dec. 15, 1999 - As the 21st century rapidly approaches, the consensus choice as the best race driver of the 20th century is four-time Indianapolis 500 winner and current Indy Racing League team owner A.J. Foyt. A six-member panel of experts assembled by the Associated Press recently voted Foyt and 1969 Indianapolis 500 winner Mario Andretti as co-drivers of the century. Each received two first-place votes and a total of 47 points from the panelists, who included NASCAR president Bill France, seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion Richard Petty, three-time Formula One World Champion Jackie Stewart, CART team owner Roger Penske and two-time Indianapolis 500 runner-up Dan Gurney. The honor from the AP came just a week after ESPN's daily motorsports show, "RPM2Night," named Foyt as its North American driver of the century. Petty finished second, Andretti third. Foyt, who won at Indianapolis in 1961, 1964, 1967 and 1977, won 67 Indianapolis-style races during his illustrious 35-year career, more victories than any driver in history. He also won seven national Indy-style championships. Versatility also was one of Foyt's strengths, as he was fast in any type of car. He won seven NASCAR stock-car races, including the 1972 Daytona 500. He also won the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans sports-car race in 1967 with Gurney as co-driver and claimed the International Race of Champions (IROC) all-star series title in 1976 and 1977. Foyt is the only driver in history to win three of the most prestigious races in the world: the Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500 and 24 Hours of Le Mans. He also is the only driver to compete in Indy-style, USAC short-track, IMSA sports-car and NASCAR stock-car events in the same season, a feat he performed many times. He was the inaugural inductee into the Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1989. Foyt retired from driving Indy-style cars in 1993 to concentrate his efforts on team ownership, where he has enjoyed success. Scott Sharp shared the 1996 Indy Racing League title in a Foyt-owned car, while Kenny Brack won the 1998 Indy Racing League title in Foyt's car. Brack won the Indianapolis 500 in 1999, sending Foyt to the winner's circle at Indianapolis for the fifth time but the first solely as a car owner.