Forty-four years ago A.J. Foyt made his USAC Championship debut at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield. History is set to repeat itself as A.J. Foyt IV prepares for a similar debut in the August 18 "Tony Bettenhausen 100" USAC ...
Forty-four years ago A.J. Foyt made his USAC Championship debut at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield. History is set to repeat itself as A.J. Foyt IV prepares for a similar debut in the August 18 "Tony Bettenhausen 100" USAC Coors Light Silver Bullet race.
The son of Nancy and Tony Foyt and grandson of A.J. Foyt, Jr., the first four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 and a four-time winner of the Springfield 100-miler, A.J. IV will drive a white #14 Conseco/Craftsman entry in the tradition-rich event on the 1-mile dirt fairgrounds oval.
"I am glad to have this chance to prove I can drive these cars," said A.J. IV, who as a rookie captured the 2001 Southwestern Formula Continental (F-2000) Championship. "If things go right, I hope to be driving in the full series next year."
"Anthony has been winning races and championships in go-karts for years," said his grandfather. "He has shown me that he is ready to step up to something else and I decided to put him in a dirt champ car. I know it's a big step but he's a heads-up driver and I really felt he could handle it. We'll see what he can do. He still has a lot of schooling to get through but this is a limited schedule so I think he can do both."
Foyt IV will test the Conseco/Craftsman #14 August 16 at the DuQuoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds under his grandfather's supervision. Earlier this year he drove a Sprint car in the Jimmy Sills Driving School and got to within two-tenths of Sills' time. Sills is the only three-time champion of the USAC Coors Light Silver Bullet Series and won at Springfield in 1992.
Jack Starne, who joined Foyt in 1967 and now manages all of Foyt's racing operations, toured with the grandson for the last four years. "He has the same look in his eyes that A.J. had, especially before a race," said Starne. "He reminds me of the old man in a lot of ways. He is totally dedicated to racing. If the track changes, he'll change his style to adapt to it. He'll do whatever it takes to get around the fastest way possible. All he thinks about is racing and winning."
A multi-time champion in go-karts and junior dragsters, Foyt IV has been racing since he was nine years old. Tony Foyt (A.J. III) was a successful race horse trainer who scaled back when his father asked him to manage his Texas ranches 10 years ago. At the same time, A.J. IV turned his attention from horses to horsepower. His parents traveled the country with him as he competed in karts nationwide.
On August 18 he hopes to join his famous grandfather as part of the rich history of the "Tony Bettenhausen 100." In 1957 A.J. started 16th and finished ninth, then went on to record 67 career USAC National Championship victories and seven USAC National driving championships, both all-time records.