A.J. Foyt undergoes successful back surgery

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A.J. Foyt missed his team’s race Sunday in Long Beach, Calif., where new driver Takuma Sato won, for a bigger reason: the legendary 78-year-old team owner had back surgery in Houston.

The surgery went well and Foyt, a four-time Indianapolis 500 champion, is targeting a return to the track for this year’s 500-mile race. The team has two cars entered for Sato and rookie Conor Daly, the latter of whom was also in attendance in Long Beach.

From the A.J. Foyt Racing Facebook page:

A.J. underwent successful back surgery today in a Houston hospital. Foyt, 78, will be kept overnight as a precaution. Neurosurgeon Dr. David Cech performed the laminectomy procedure in the lumbar region of Foyt’s spine to relieve the sciatic nerve pain he had been experiencing recently. He is expected to make a full recovery.

Although the surgery was originally scheduled to be Wednesday, Foyt asked for the earlier surgery to hasten his recovery period. He is planning to be at Indianapolis next month as his ABC Supply IndyCar team works to continue the momentum gained from Takuma’s victory in Sunday’s Grand Prix of Long Beach.

IMSA: CJ Wilson Racing to enter WeatherTech Championship

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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CJ Wilson Racing, a championship winning team in IMSA’s Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, is set to join the ranks of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The team will make its IMSA debut during testing this week at Sebring International Raceway and will campaign an Acura NSX GT3 in the GT Daytona class.

Marc Miller and Till Bechtolsheimer are scheduled to handle the driving duties during the Sebring test, and a third driver, to be named at a later date, will join them for their debut race at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 17.

“As a young kid watching IMSA races, it was always my dream to race in the premier sports car series,” said team owner and former MLB all-star pitcher Wilson. “It looks like I still have some time before I race in (the) WeatherTech (Championship, as a driver) but I’m happy for Marc and Till to take on the toughest track in the country in the NSX.”

Wilson continued, “We have been aiming to get into this paddock for years but now the real fight begins to see what we can do against the much more experienced teams. So, we felt like, hey, if we’re going to go in and spend X-amount of dollars, maybe we’re better off spending that in GTD, getting our feet wet, and taking a real run at this and being where we want to be, which is having a chance to compete with the best teams in the Western Hemisphere.”
In addition to Sebring, the team will contest the other two rounds of the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup – the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen and the Motul Petit Le Mans – with plans to add additional events, as team manager Andris Laivins explained.
“Right now, the plan is to run the remainder of the Patrón NAEC, and hopefully add on a couple other rounds as we go,” Laivins detailed. “Last fall, as we approached Thanksgiving, it became clear that putting a proper effort on track for the Roar and Daytona was going to be tough, and the last thing you want to do is show up to the biggest race of the year unprepared, so we made the tough choice to sit it out and keep working.”
CJ Wilson Racing’s IMSA efforts date back to 2010, when the team debuted in the Mazda MX-5 Cup as well as what is now called the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge. The team went on to win a championship in 2015, in the Street Tuner class of the Continental Tire Challenge.
The team currently fields Porsches in the Continental Tire Challenge Grand Sport (GS) class. Wilson himself has also been an IMSA competitor as a driver, most recently competing in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama series last year.