AJ Foyt Racing Ready For Toronto

Exhibition Place

Vitor Meira on Toronto: “Last year was my first experience with Toronto and we were doing okay up to qualifying when we had a brake issue and that set us back in the race too. It was one of the courses that the car was very good at from the get go and with all of the improvements we made on the street/road course cars over the winter, my hopes are high for Toronto. We definitely improved on the package for this year and that should transfer in Toronto. The trickiest part of the circuit itself is not one area (although the hairpin at end of straight is a very tough braking area) but all of the surface changes. In one corner you can have asphalt, concrete and bumpy asphalt and all of the transitions between those make it more challenging. That is the toughest part – to have your car behave as good as it can on all of the surface changes while knowing it’s never going to be perfect.”

Vitor Meira, A.J. Foyt Enterprises
Vitor Meira, A.J. Foyt Enterprises

Photo by: Covy Moore

Meira on the IndyCar Series return to Auto Club (formerly California) Speedway in 2012: “I am very excited to be returning there. I’m one of the people who still thinks that the IZOD IndyCar Series should be, at the very least, 50% ovals. Anytime it is an oval (mostly the big ovals) coming into the series, I am excited because that is where the championship series was founded and I think that’s where it should have most of its races. The Fontana track is always a very exciting race and with the new cars, things will get shuffled around, so I’m very excited! Good stuff.”

Meira on return to road courses: “I am excited but my biggest concern is to rebound from the last couple of races we had and the issues we ran into. It doesn’t matter that it’s a street course or an oval, I’m really going to focus on having a good solid weekend because that’s what we need right now. In some ways it’s good that our next race is at a street course because we can implement everything that we learned so far this year on the street courses.”

Three of Meira’s four top-10 finishes in 2011 have come on the road/street courses. He finished eighth in St. Petersburg, Fla. and 10th in Birmingham, Ala. and Long Beach, Calif. An accident during a sudden downpour in Sao Paulo, Brazil prevented another top-10 finish there. Meira’s other top-10 finish came on an oval--in the first Firestone Twin 275 in Ft. Worth, Texas.

Crew Chief Tom Howatt, born in Margate, England, moved to the Toronto area when he was seven. He grew up in Mississisauga, 14 miles northwest of the city. Howatt began his racing career by working on sports cars. In 1985, he began working on Indy cars for the Canadian Tire team with driver Jacques Villeneuve, younger brother of Formula 1 driver Gilles and uncle to the 1995 Indy 500 winner. Howatt counts one of his fondest memories as winning with Villeneuve at Road America (Elkhart Lake, WI) in 1985. In his 28 year career, he has worked with Pat Patrick, Granatelli, Truesports, Panther Racing and Rocketsports. Howatt has been working with Foyt’s team since 2008.

Team members Andrew Copeland and Pat Jordan won the Jim Greer Award for the Milwaukee 225 and Iowa Corn Indy 250 races respectively. Copeland, who joined the Foyt team last year, works as a general mechanic. Jordan, a veteran mechanic who works with the team on race weekends, changes the outside front tire on the pit stops. Jim Greer, longtime friend of A.J. Foyt, created an award to recognize outstanding performance at race events among the Foyt team members. The recipient receives a monetary bonus and his name (and the race name) engraved on a plaque which hangs in the AJ Foyt Racing Showroom.

Past Performance at Toronto: Meira started 26th (after having a problem in qualifying) and finished 11th last year. In the IZOD IndyCar Series’ first visit to the street circuit in 2009, Ryan Hunter-Reay subbed for Meira who was still recovering from his injuries at Indy. Hunter-Reay started 12th and finished seventh. A former CART and Champ Car racer, Hunter-Reay had raced at the circuit three times prior to 2009. The Foyt team’s best finish in Toronto during its run in the CART Series was sixth with Robby Gordon in 1993.

By: aj foyt racing

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Robby Gordon , Ryan Hunter-Reay , A.J. Foyt , Vitor Meira
Teams A.J. Foyt Enterprises , Panther Racing
Tags aj foyt, exhibition place, indycar, izod, meira, toronto