Foyt shows no sign of slowing down despite hitting 65; INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2000 -- When A.J. Foyt brings his newest driver, Jeff Ward, to Walt Disney World Speedway for the Delphi Indy 200 on Jan. 29, he'll be eligible - ...
Foyt shows no sign of slowing down despite hitting 65;
INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2000 -- When A.J. Foyt brings his newest driver, Jeff Ward, to Walt Disney World Speedway for the Delphi Indy 200 on Jan. 29, he'll be eligible - believe it or not - to draw Social Security. On Jan. 16, legendary driver/car owner Foyt celebrates his 65th birthday. It's just another bump in the road of life for this Texan whose name is synonymous with the sport of auto racing. Instead of slowing down, he's speeding up. In addition to campaigning a car in the Indy Racing League series, he's venturing into the NASCAR Winston Cup Series as a car owner for driver Mike Bliss. Bliss turned the sixth-fastest speed of 184.192 mph in his No. 14 Conseco Financial Pontiac during testing Jan. 11 at Daytona International Speedway. "Victory in the future is always what you're looking for," Foyt told the media. "I still have so much I'd like to accomplish as a team owner and success at Daytona and in Winston Cup is high on the list." So is winning another Indy Racing League championship and a sixth Indianapolis 500, including a record four as a driver. Foyt driver Scott Sharp shared the title in the initial Indy Racing League season in 1996, and Kenny Brack won it outright for Foyt in 1998. Last May, Brack returned Foyt to Victory Circle at Indy for the fifth time with a fast and steady drive. Foyt drove in 35 consecutive Indy 500s, a record that probably will never be broken. During his career he started in 928 open-wheel and stock-car races, not to mention a number of endurance events that brought him victory at Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring. He recorded 172 major victories and won 12 championships.
Following is a brief accounting of his career:
Indy Car (369 starts) - First race, Aug. 17, 1957, at Springfield, Ill., No. 56 Hoover Motor Express; started 16th, finished ninth.
Indianapolis 500 (35 starts) - First race, May 30, 1958, No. 29 Dean Van Lines; started 12th, finished 16th. Last race, May 24, 1992, No. 14 Foyt/Copenhagen; started 23rd, finished ninth (retired on Pole Day, 1993, after his driver Robby Gordon crashed in morning practice).
Midget (129 starts) - First race, May 29, 1956, at 16th Street Speedway in Indianapolis, No. 2 A.J. Foyt; started sixth, finished 13th. Last race, Sept. 7, 1975, at Terre Haute Action Track, No. 98 Howard Linne; started first, finished 26th.
Sprint (136 starts) - First race, Aug. 11, 1957, at Salem, Ind., No. 6 Eph Hoover; started seventh, finished seventh. Last race, May 24, 1974, at Indiana State Fairgrounds (double-header) No. 11 Snyder/Foyt; started eighth and first, finished first in both features.
USAC stocks (148) - First race, Feb. 5, 1961, at Arizona State Fairgrounds, No. 88 H. Richardson; started eighth, finished 20the. Last race, Nov. 11, 1979, at Texas World Speedway, No. 51 A.J. Foyt; started first, finished fourth.
Silver Crown (18) - First race, Aug. 22, 1971, at Springfield, Ill., No. 9 A.J. Foyt; started 10th, finished first. Last race, Sept. 11, 1982, at Indiana State Fairgrounds, No. 14 A.J. Foyt; started 13th, finished 19th.
NASCAR Winston Cup (128) - First race, Jan. 20, 1963, Riverside, Calif., No. 02 Ray Nichels Pontiac; started second, finished second; last race, Aug. 6, 1994, Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, No. 50 Copenhagen Ford; started 40th, finished 30th.
Harbaugh picks Colts: Indy Racing League team co-owner Jim Harbaugh picks his former National Football League team, the Indianapolis Colts, to reach the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl is scheduled to be played in Atlanta, on Jan. 30, the day after the Indy Racing League kicks off its 2000 season with the Delphi Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Fla. Harbaugh, who played quarterback for the San Diego Chargers in the 1999 season, shares ownership of the Pennzoil Panther Racing car driven by veteran Scott Goodyear. Other owners are Gary Pedigo, John Barnes, Doug Boles and Mike Griffin. The Colts beat the Chargers, 29-17, at San Diego in the third game of the season and went on to capture the American Football Conference East title to earn a first-round bye in the playoffs. The Colts play host to the Tennessee Titans in the AFC semifinals Jan. 16 at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. "They've been fun to watch," said Harbaugh, who came within one unheld "Hail Mary" pass from taking the Colts to the Super Bowl in 1995. "We were ahead by nine," he said, reflecting on the game of last September. "I thought we were going to win. They've been a resilient team all year. "They are my pick to win the AFC and go to the Super Bowl." But Harbaugh, who was released by the Colts when the team made the decision to select Peyton Manning in the draft, warned that defeating Tennessee won't be easy. "Stopping (running back) Eddie George will be tough," he said. Harbaugh, an Orlando resident, said he'll probably watch the game on TV. "Nobody's invited me out," he said with a laugh. "Nobody has offered me a ticket yet." Harbaugh, though football takes him away from the second half of the Indy Racing season, is a hands-on owner who enjoys the opening of the racing season as much as he does the football campaign. "I'm a little anxious to get started, get our first 'game' in now and know where we are," he said.
George on track: Tony George's 10th anniversary as president the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was Jan. 8, but he wasn't out toasting the many positive changes he has made to the world's most famous racing facility during the 1990s. Instead, he was inside the Expo Square Exposition Center in Tulsa, Okla., driving a midget race car in the annual Chili Bowl event. George and son Ed Carpenter both participated in the three-day event. George won his heat race Jan. 6, and Carpenter did likewise Jan. 7 while George was back in Indianapolis receiving the Roger McCluskey Award of Excellence at the 44th "Pennzoil "Night of Champions" USAC National Awards Banquet. George returned to Tulsa to compete in one of the Jan. 8 feature races, the B Main. He was running seventh when two cars in front of him tangled forcing him up and into the outside wall. The car rolled over on its side, but he was uninjured. Carpenter encountered engine problems and did not make the finals.
Thunder on Sundays: The popular USAC "Thunder" racing show, which last season was shown mostly on Wednesday nights, will become "Sunday Night Thunder" on ESPN2 during the 2000 season. Johnny Capels, president of USAC, made the announcement at the annual USAC awards banquet. The two-hour telecast will start at 9:30 p.m. (EDT) each Sunday and run for two hours. *** Barney Wimmer dies: Harry M. "Barney" Wimmer, restorer of historic cars at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, died at his hometown of Altoona, Pa., on Dec. 30. He was 87. Wimmer served as crew chief for driver Elmer George and car owner Mari Hulman George, father and mother, respectively, of Tony George, president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Wimmer began his racing career as mechanic for car owner-driver Jimmy Wilburn following World War II. He was chief mechanic for driver Jimmy Davies, who finished third in the 1955 Indianapolis 500. His drivers won four national races. Wimmer retired from being a mechanic to restore antique race and passenger cars for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Foundation Hall of Fame Museum over a 35-year period. He assisted in restoring some 27 antique cars. Survivors included sisters Anna Bartley and Martha Rodgers. Memorial contributions may be made to the Shriners Hospitals for Children, in care of the Indianapolis 500 Shrine Club.