IRL: Foyt added to his legend at Phoenix

FOYT ENJOYED MANY DAYS IN THE SUN AT PHOENIX'S FAST MILE By Dick Mittman indyracingleague.com PHOENIX, March 12, 1999 -- Auto racing legend A.J. Foyt once one earned $88 for 23rd place in an Indy-style race at Phoenix ...

FOYT ENJOYED MANY DAYS IN THE SUN AT PHOENIX'S FAST MILE

By Dick Mittman indyracingleague.com

PHOENIX, March 12, 1999 -- Auto racing legend A.J. Foyt once one earned $88 for 23rd place in an Indy-style race at Phoenix International Raceway.

In his final appearance at PIR as a driver in 1990, he was paid $21,958 for driving 28 laps to 22nd place.

"I had a lot of good days there, a lot of bad days," said Foyt, four-time Indianapolis 500 winner. "But all in all, Phoenix has been good to us."

Foyt makes his 47th visit to PIR as either a driver or car owner when the Pep Boys Indy Racing League stages its second race of the 1999 season, the MCI WorldCom 200, on March 28. Car owner Foyt again is fielding drivers Kenny Brack, who won three races and the season championship in 1998, and Phoenix resident Billy Boat, winner of one race and six PPG Poles last season.

A.J. drove for the first time at PIR on Nov. 11, 1957, in the Hoover Motor Express Special, starting 14th, completing 98 laps and finishing seventh. Foyt, then 22, hauled home to Houston a handsome check of $569.

The race occurred on Armistice Day, but for Foyt it was a declaration of war in the Indy-style ranks. The battles have brought him 67 victories, including four at Indy, and seven championships. Not only that, the war still rages 42 years later as he chases a third title as a car owner in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League.

Like at Indy, A.J. has won four times in an Indy-style car at Phoenix. He also won there once in a stock car.

"I think I won the first race after it was paved," Foyt said, referring to his Nov. 20, 1960, victory in a 100-lapper.

        "One thing I remember about Phoenix is the late Clint Brawner," he
said.  "He gave me my start in Indy-car racing."

Brawner, a Phoenix native, put Foyt in the Dean Van Lines Special in 1958, replacing another Phoenix racing great, Jimmy Bryan. Bryan had won the USAC National Championship the two previous years.

"I said, 'Man, I'm a rookie, and I've got some shoes to fill,'" Foyt said. "But I'm just glad to see Clint Brawner had the loyalty in me and helped me (get) to where I'm at today. So Phoenix means a lot to A.J. Foyt."

Two years later, in the 1960 race, Foyt clinched his first title by winning on the mile in the desert.

Foyt drove at Phoenix in the Hoover Motor Express, Dean Van Lines, Bignotti-Bowes, Thompson-Rotary, Sheraton-Thompson, ITT Thompson, Gilmore-Foyt and Gilmore-Copenhagen machines. In addition to 1960, he also won a 200-miler on Nov. 21, 1965, a 150 on Oct. 10, 1971 and another 150-miler on Nov. 9, 1975.

He won a stock car race there on April 18, 1970.

Maybe Foyt's most memorable race at Phoenix came April 7, 1968, where his payoff today wouldn't have paid for one night in a motel. Foyt, the defending national champion, crashed on the initial lap and was eliminated. But that's only part of the story.

On Lap 81, young Al Unser blew an engine and dumped oil onto the pavement. Johnny Rutherford spun in the slick stuff and hit the wall, igniting a small fire. Along came Roger McCluskey, and he skidded into the disabled and burning machine of Rutherford. But the mishap wasn't done yet. Mario Andretti was next to hit the oil, and he also slid up into the other two cars. Foyt ran across the track and helped get the drivers out.

The five drivers involved ended their careers by winning 12 Indy 500s and 15 national championships.

Foyt drove in 39 Indy-style races at PIR, completed 3,532 laps and earned $151,303.10 in prize money. A.J. also drove in two midget races at South Mountain Speedway in 1957 and one at Manzanita in 1965. He won the latter race. His other stock-car appearance came in 1968.

As solely a car owner, he has run, in addition to Boat and Brack, Robby Gordon, Davy Jones, Eddie Cheever Jr., Mike Groff, Scott Sharp and Davey Hamilton at Phoenix.

Following is the a complete rundown of Foyt's Indy-style driving appearances at PIR:

Date          Start   Finish    Laps    Money
11/11/57        14      7       98      $569
11/11/58        9       4       99      $1,006
11/11/59        7       2       100     $2,418
11/20/60        9       1       100     $4,765
11/19/61        9       15      83      $246
11/18/62        10      2       51      $2,658
11/17/63        7       8       99      $544
11/22/64        2       19      54      $273.90
11/21/65        3       1       200     $6,030
3/20/66         4       11      101     $396.24
11/20/66        7       17      47      $368.18
4/9/67          4       5       148     $1,104.78
11/19/67        7       17      92      $700
4/7/68          5       23      0       $88
11/17/68        3       23      6       $771
3/30/69         6       23      23      $238
11/16/69        4       25      32      $900
3/28/70         5       4       149     $2,441
11/21/70        3       23      35      $941
3/27/71         5       17      93      $1,075
10/23/71        3       1       150     $9,958
3/18/72         11      8       147     $1,653
11/4/72         11      21      37      $941
3/17/74         5       3       150     $3,425
11/2/74         3       4       148     $2,721
3/16/75         3       3       149     $3,656
11/9/75         5       1       150     $9,261
3/14/76         3       21      13      $1,838
3/27/77         5       2       150     $6,555
3/18/78         13      3       148     $6,292
10/28/78        6       2       150     $8,219
10/14/84        15      14      118     $1,280
10/13/85        21      23      50      $1,410
4/6/86          13      17      141     $6,194
4/10/88         7       4       198     $23,260
4/9/89          18      22      42      $14,580
4/8/90          12      22      28      $21,958

***

MCI WORLDCOM 200 NOTEBOOK

Schedule:  The MCI WorldCom 200 starts at 2 p.m.  (MST) March 28.  PPG
Pole qualifying starts at 11:20 a.m.  March 27.
Practice sessions start at 10:45 a.m.  and 2:40 p.m.  March 26, 8:35
a.m.  March 27 and 9:15 a.m.  March 28.

***

On the air: The MCI WorldCom 200 will be televised live at 4 p.m. (EST) March 28 on FOX Sports Net, the network's debut Pep Boys Indy Racing League telecast.

SpeedVision will televise PPG Pole qualifying at 2 p.m. (EST) March 27.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network will broadcast a 30-minute pre-race show at 3:30 p.m. (EST) March 28, followed by the live race broadcast at 4 p.m. A 30-minute PPG Pole qualifying show will start at 3 p.m. (EST) March 27 on the IMS Radio Network. The Phoenix-area IMS affiliate is KGME-AM Sports Radio 1360, Phoenix.

***

Tickets: Tickets are available for the MCI WorldCom 200 on March 28. Call (602) 252-2227 for more information. Ticket information also is available on the World Wide Web at http://www.daytonausa.com/pir/

Source: IMS/IRL

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Eddie Cheever , Davey Hamilton , Scott Sharp , Billy Boat , Kenny Brack , Mario Andretti , Al Unser Sr. , Davy Jones , A.J. Foyt , Johnny Rutherford