Foyt against an IMS road race before Indy 500

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A.J. Foyt has always said he didn’t make the Indianapolis 500; rather, the Indianapolis 500 made him.

And the four-time 500 champion, one of North America’s greatest racers, said Wednesday he’d like the month of May to stay just for the ‘500 rather than adopt the mooted road course race at the Speedway.

“In my own opinion, I would hate to see that because Indianapolis 500 has been like the Kentucky Derby.  It’s a legend race, and I think it would take a little bit from the 500,” Foyt said.

He added the timing would be fine if it was later in the year.

“Now after the 500, mid‑year, something like that, that would probably be fine,” he admitted.  “But I’d hate to see it interfere with the Indy 500 maybe a week or two before it opens.  I don’t think it’s a good deal, and that’s my personal opinion. I know a lot of people probably think it would be good, but I don’t think you’d have that many people there.  I just think it would take away something from the Indy 500.  That’s the way I feel.”

Others such as current drivers Graham Rahal and Ryan Briscoe, who tested on the IMS road course earlier this month, and Rahal’s father, team owner and 1986 Indianapolis 500 champion Bobby have spoken out in support of the road course race.

NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
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John Force is rubbing off on others – but probably not the way they or he would like.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion has had spectacular motor explosions in each of the first three races of the new NHRA season, including during Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Gatornationals.

During Sunday’s quarterfinals of eliminations, Force’s teammate (and son-in-law and president of John Force Racing) Robert Hight squared off with fellow Funny Car driver Matt Hagan.

As the duo closed in on the finish line, both cars experienced spectacular motor explosions of their own – virtually side-by-side and nearly at the same time.

Hight’s car was the first to explode, tossing its body high in the air. A split-second later, Hagan’s car exploded, also sending the body flying.

Check out the NHRA video:

Hight wound up losing the race.

Hagan, meanwhile, and his crack pit crew rolled their backup car off the hauler, put in a new motor and went on to race through the semifinals and into the finals, losing to race winner “Fast Jack” Beckman.

“We had a pretty great race day, to be honest,” Hagan said. “I’ve never been to the finals in Gainesville.

“We obviously had a huge blow up in the second round, then to watch these guys pull the other car back out and put it together in the amount of time they had, then turn a win light on against Capps (Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals), then to be able to go to a final, it was huge and it speaks for itself.”

As for Hight, here’s his take on what happened with the motor explosion:

“I couldn’t see (Hagan) over there and it wasn’t like it was hazing the tires or anything else. As it turns out it wasn’t spinning at all. It kicked two rods out when it blacked the bearings in the crank then it hit the valves and blew up.

“The thing gave me no indication at all before that. What really scared me was once I got it under control and I look over and see his body is off his car. I am thinking ‘Oh man, he got gathered up in me.’ Then I stood up and looked and his injector was sideways so I realized he had an explosion as well. We are just lucky we didn’t get into each other.”

As for the guy who has had so much trouble in the motor department, John Force, he lost in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations to daughter Courtney Force.

John Force planned on shutting the motor off on his car at around the 700-foot mark of the 1,000-foot dragstrip, not wanting to risk another motor explosion – even though it meant a likely loss to his daughter.

Now John Force and his entire four-car team, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight and daughter and Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, will be off for extensive testing to try and determine what’s been causing the motor explosions.

“We have to evaluate it and go test,” Force said. “We’ll figure it out.”

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