IRL: Billy Boat Returns at Pike's Peak

HARD WORK PUTS BOAT BACK AT HELM OF FOYT'S CAR AT PIKES PEAK FOUNTAIN, Colo., Aug. 11, 1998 -- The dance floor is still out for race driver Billy Boat, but he's ready to boogie again in his A.J. Foyt-owned race car. The speedy Boat,...

HARD WORK PUTS BOAT BACK AT HELM OF FOYT'S CAR AT PIKES PEAK

FOUNTAIN, Colo., Aug. 11, 1998 -- The dance floor is still out for race driver Billy Boat, but he's ready to boogie again in his A.J. Foyt-owned race car. The speedy Boat, who suffered a broken left leg and a cracked pelvis in an accident during the New England 200 June 28 at New Hampshire International Speedway, returns to action in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League Radisson 200 on Aug. 16 at Pikes Peak International Raceway. He remains on crutches but already has tested successfully at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Still, he admits watching replacement Greg Ray drive his car in races at Dover, Del., and Charlotte, N.C., made him feel like a jilted high school senior. "It was kind of like another guy taking your girlfriend to the prom," he said. "There's nothing you can do about it. Greg did a great job, but I should have been in the seat." Looking ahead to his return, Boat said the team must focus on consistency. Boat doesn't think there will be a problem with being competitive, but he said he must finish more races. Boat, from Phoenix, has started third, second, first, second and first in his five Pep Boys IRL races this season. He won June 6 at Texas - ironically, outracing Ray - and finished third at Phoenix. But in the other three races, his Conseco A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear was placed 21st at Orlando, 23rd at Indy after capturing the pole and 21st at New Hampshire. "I ran for PDM Racing (at PPIR) last year and ended up crashing," he said. "Still I've had some time on the track. It's a great place to run, fast and wide. It'll be a great race." Boat, 32, said he was comfortable during testing July 28-29 under the lights at Atlanta, just five weeks after his accident. His seat was remodeled to adjust to his injured leg, which isn't quite in the same position in the seat as before. Boat said he just picked up where he left off. "He did real good," said Tommy LaMance, team manager for Foyt Racing. "He didn't incur any pain." Boat was an innocent victim in the accident at New Hampshire. Rookie J.J. Yeley spun in front of Boat's car, clipped it and sent it into the outside wall. Boat's machine then caromed across the track toward the infield and was speared from the side by the nose of Raul Boesel's car. Boat underwent major surgery for his injury. He had a plate and five screws placed in his left femur and spent five days in the hospital. After a couple days in bed at home, he started workouts to improve his upper-body strength and also spent four hours a day at his Phoenix business, B&B Fabricating. "I'm really happy with my progress," he said. "I'm too active. I just can't just lay around." Boat worked hard on increasing his mobility during his recuperation, shortening his recovery time. He suffered a broken right leg in two places during a sprint-car flip about 10 years ago but didn't have the plate put in his leg that time. "Actually, I've come back more quickly on this, because I was more aggressive on my recovery," Boat said. "Physically, I'm in great shape. I'm in better shape than I've been in a long time." Boat now can begin some lifting with the injured leg, a strong indicator of his progress. Boat, a father of four, was asked if he was inspired by the comeback his car owner Foyt made from severe leg injuries received in a terrifying crash several years ago at Elkhart Lake, Wis. "I'll tell you one thing, no matter what happens he's got a better story," Boat said with a laugh. "He can top anything." Boat is 12th in the Pep Boys IRL standings with 122 points. Before his two-race layoff, this was good enough for fourth place, only 45 points behind then-leader Tony Stewart. Boat has led three races for 132 laps and won $1,233,800 this season. He hasn't given up in the quest for a good finish in the final standings. "We just have to go out and finish good and get as many points as we can," he said. "That's all we can do. With some good luck and some bad luck by the other guys, who knows, we might be in contention. "If not, we'll just look ahead to next year."

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Greg Ray , Billy Boat , Raul Boesel , A.J. Foyt