One of the most important people in American auto racing history is celebrating a birthday today, as four-time Indianapolis 500 champion and current IndyCar Series team owner A.J. Foyt is turning 79 years old.
It’s very difficult to sum up how much “SuperTex” – also a former champion of NASCAR’s Daytona 500, the Rolex 24 at Daytona, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans – has meant to the sport over the years.
Rising from the dirt tracks of Houston, Texas in the 1950s, Foyt became famous the world over for his talent behind the wheel in many different racing disciplines. He also became, and still is, well-known for his toughness.
Foyt forged ahead with his driving career by overcoming many calamities, including a 1965 stock car crash at Riverside that left him so badly injured he was initially pronounced dead and a 1990 CART accident at Road America that ended with his shattered legs being dug out of a dirt embankment.
He’s also survived several off-track events post-career as well, such as being stung more than 200 times by Africanized killer bees on his Texas ranch in 2005 and a staph infection in 2012.
But even though he’s been through many trials and tribulations, Foyt has endured through it all to become a treasured figure on the American sports landscape.
“If I was reborn tomorrow, I wouldn’t change nothing,” Foyt told IndyCar.com in an interview last September. “I don’t think a lot of people could say that. I know what it’s like to be on the bottom. I know what it’s like to be on the top and I know what it’s like to be in the middle. I’ve been up that ladder like a yo-yo.
“I’m on the downhill run. Every day is like a new day with me.”
And we certainly hope today’s been a great day for A.J.
MotorSportsTalk continues its review of the Verizon IndyCar Series field, driver-by-driver, with a look at Ryan Briscoe. Despite not having a ride to start the year, Briscoe ended strongly courtesy of a series of strong runs at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
Ryan Briscoe, No. 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
- 2014: 11th Place, Best Finish 4th, Best Start 4th, 1 Top-5, 11 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 12.8 Avg. Start, 10.6 Avg. Finish
- 2015: 18th Place (8 starts), Best Finish 5th, Best Start 2nd, 1 Top-5, 4 Top-10, 10 Laps Led, 17.8 Avg. Start, 12.0 Avg. Finish
For those who slag on Briscoe as being undeserving of top level equipment, his 2015 second half provided a friendly reminder of his overall ability level in what might be less than the best machinery.
Briscoe was thrust into the No. 5 car under trying circumstances to begin with, getting all of an hour’s worth practice replacing the injured James Hinchcliffe ahead of the Indianapolis 500. But subsequent drives on the ovals there, Texas, Fontana, Milwaukee and Iowa – even if the results were less than ideal – showcased a driver determined to show to the paddock he still had it, and then some. His defense against Juan Pablo Montoya in Sonoma was nothing short of brilliant, and courtesy of double points he actually finished ahead of full-season driver Stefano Coletti.
The Australian immediately gelled with the SPM team, engineer Allen McDonald and race strategist Robert Gue. He continues to prove he’s an asset, as he has enjoyed multiple opportunities to extend his career in various arenas of motorsport in both open-wheel and sports cars, the latter of which he won at both the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with Corvette Racing this year.
Following an early retirement for Mercedes AMG Petronas teammate Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton has closed even more on his third Formula 1 World Championship.
View it above in the race recap from the 2015 Russian Grand Prix.