Alex Tagliani will attempt the 2015 Indianapolis 500, later this month.
AJ Foyt Racing will field a third Honda-powered Indy car for the 99th Indianapolis 500 on May 24. The 2011 pole sitter of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, Canadian Alex Tagliani will be behind the wheel of the No. 48 Al-Fe Heat Treating Indy car, marking the fifth year for Al-Fe with the Foyt Verizon IndyCar Series team.
Why No. 48?
Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Museum has a tribute this May to America’s own Dan Gurney, owner of All American Racers who designed and built the Eagle racers that rampaged the Brickyard from the mid-60s through much of the 1970s.
AJ Foyt Jr co-drove with Gurney to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1967 and decided his AJ Foyt Racing crew should add its own tribute, using Gurney’s famed No. 48 for Tagliani’s car and featuring the matte black and white colors that evoke Gurney’s second place results in both the 1968 and 1969 Indy 500s.
“My good friend Dan Gurney used to run that number and he’s supposed to be back at Indy this year so I thought it would be a great way to honor him. And he had some good runs with that number!” said Foyt. The car’s livery has been designed by Ryan Westman, regional sales manager for Al-Fe Heat Treating, Inc. and artist Jason LaFrenais.
Gurney does plan to attend this year’s race and spend time with Foyt. Dan Gurney’s All American Racers won the 1975 Indy 500 with Bobby Unser driving the No. 48 Jorgensen Eagle. “I am deeply touched by my old friend and teammate AJ “Supertex” Foyt to be honored in this way,” said Gurney, “and I will be rooting for Alex Tagliani in “48” with a big smile on my face,” he said from his California home.
Westman remarked that “one of the most memorable times of my childhood was to attend the Indy 500 time trials and the race with my family.” Al-Fe Heat Treating Inc. started as an associate partner with AJ Foyt Enterprises in 2011 and has increased its program every year; this is the company’s first year as a primary sponsor on an Indy 500 entry.
Like so many before him, Westman revealed that he and his brother “would spend hours at the fence along Gasoline Alley trying to catch a glimpse (and photograph the cars and drivers. It’s almost impossible to explain the excitement and pride I feel in being able to be part of one of the most famous race teams in the world and - more so this year - by sponsoring the No. 48 Al-Fe Heat Treating, Dan Gurney tribute car driven by Alex Tagliani.”
Fresh from welcoming his first child, daughter Eva Rose with wife Bronte, Tagliani returns to an IndyCar cockpit for the first time since last year’s Indianapolis 500, when he qualified 24th and finished 13th for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing. With more than 200 Indy car starts Tagliani, 41, has six starts leading up to this year’s Indy 500 and has finished in the top 13 on four occasions. His best result is 10th in 2010; he’s started within the first four rows four times, including his 2011 pole-winning run.
“I’m really excited and honored to be part of the AJ Foyt Racing organization because driving for A.J. at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is something really, really special,” Tagliani stated. “Having the chance to contribute to the Foyt family legacy is my mission for the month of May.
“I’m thrilled to be part of honoring Dan Gurney by driving a car in his livery. Bringing the Gurney Eagle’s vintage look to the new Honda aero kit car is for sure going to be a crowd pleaser,” he continued. “As a new dad, sharing this unique tribute with my family and the Foyt family is very special. Taking the Dan Gurney No. 48 Al-Fe Heat Treating machine to Indy’s victory circle would be awesome - and we’re aiming to do just that.”
In addition to this new entry, AJ Foyt Racing fields his regular drivers Takuma Sato (No. 14 ABC Supply Honda) and Jack Hawksworth (No. 41 ABC Supply Honda). This is the first time the team has fielded three cars since 2005, when AJ Foyt Racing president Larry Foyt was still racing. “Dad has a long tradition of adding extra cars at the Speedway and although we hadn’t originally planned on it, when the opportunity came it made good sense,” Larry Foyt said. “It was important to have a driver with the ability and experience of Alex, so adding him to our lineup is a great fit.”
Tagliani will make his first trips of 2015 around the iconic 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the No. 48 Al-Fe Heat Treating Honda on Monday, May 11 when the track opens for its first full day of practice for the 200-lap race. Qualifying takes place the following weekend, May 16-17.