A.J. Foyt recalls their association
Master mechanic and race car designer and builder extraordinaire A.J. Watson passed away today at age 90.
A.J. Foyt drove and won with Watson-designed and built roadsters in the 60s. Eleven of his 67 victories came in either Watson or Watson-Trevis roadsters, including his first two Indy 500s (1961 and 1964). Foyt drove Watson’s sprint car in 1960 winning the USAC Eastern Division title that year.
Foyt continued to drive Watson’s sprint car off and on through 1968, winning his final race for Watson at Ascot in Gardena, Calif. in 1967. A 1965 Watson IndyCar is shown in the photo.
A.J. Foyt: “I was very good friends with A.J. Watson and his wife Joyce. He picked me up to drive his sprint car years back. We worked right there at his house, took the 220 Offy and built the Chevrolet. He was a pioneer. He came out against Kurtis and built the Watson roadster and I was lucky enough to win with it. In his day right here at the Indy 500, there was nobody that was going to beat the three W’s: Watson, Wilke and Ward.
“It’s hard to believe he’s gone. I’m just glad I was able to go see him on his 90th birthday [May 8]. We did talk about old times. He had a picture of me and him with his sprint car on the wall and I teased him, ‘A.J. were we ever that young?’ He said, ‘It’s hard to believe, isn’t it?’”
The Speedway also issued a statement:
From Indianapolis Motor Speedway President J. Douglas Boles about the death early this morning of four-time Indianapolis 500-winning chief mechanic and prolific car builder A.J. Watson:
"AJ Watson was one of the most innovative and successful mechanics and car builders in the 105-year history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the Watson roadster that was so prevalent in the 1950s and 1960s remains one of the most iconic racing cars ever constructed. The thoughts and prayers of the entire
Indianapolis Motor Speedway organization are with the Watson family and the many friends and fans of A.J. Watson, who will always remember him for his passion for racing and his friendly and approachable personality."
Watson, 90, had four "500" wins as chief mechanic (Bob Sweikert in 1955, Pat Flaherty, 1956, and Rodger Ward in both 1959 and 1962) and six as the winning constructor, in 1956, 1959 and 1962; plus 1960 (Jim Rathmann), 1963 (Parnelli Jones) and 1964 ( A. J. Foyt).