Edsel B. Ford II presents A.J. Foyt with the Spirit of Ford Award. Photo: Ford Performance

A.J. Foyt receives Spirit of Ford Award at RRDC dinner in Long Beach

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LONG BEACH, Calif. – Both A.J. Foyt and Dan Gurney were honored during last night’s Road Racing Driver’s Club dinner, an evening with Emerson Fittipaldi.

More on that event later but here’s a quick bit on Foyt, who received the Spirit of Ford Award. He and Gurney co-drove the Ford GT40 Mk. IV to the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans victory.

Here’s the release, below:

A.J. Foyt, one of the most legendary American drivers in history, was presented with the prestigious Spirit of Ford Award in a ceremony at the Road Racing Driver’s Club dinner last evening.

The Spirit of Ford Award is Ford Motor Company’s highest honor in auto racing, recognizing lifetime achievement and contribution to the industry both on and off the race track. Foyt becomes the 26th recipient, joining an international list of honorees from all forms of racing and racing media.

Foyt was presented the award during the RRDC dinner by Edsel B. Ford II, great-grandson of company founder Henry Ford and a member of the company’s board of directors.

Foyt was on hand for the dinner along with Dan Gurney, as part of an event helping commemorate the 50thanniversary of the duo’s victory at the 1967 Le Mans 24 Hours, the first and only victory at Le Mans by an All-American team featuring All-American drivers.

“A.J. was one of my heroes in racing when I first followed the sport,” said Ford.  “When looking back at his magnificent career, the question isn’t what did A.J. drive, but more what didn’t he drive and win in?   His passion for driving and his commitment to the sport since his retirement have made him more than worthy for all the halls of fames he is part of.   Many of his most significant victories – including the ’67 Le Mans win – came with Ford power, and it’s truly my honor to be able to present him with our Spirit of Ford Award.”

Foyt is best known as being the first driver to win the Indianapolis 500 four times, but his career spanned into many forms of racing.  He has a record 67 wins and seven championships in Indy Car racing.  He also was a seven-time winner in the NASCAR Cup series, and has a total of 172 victories and 14 championships during his career.

He is also the only driver in history to win the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500, 24 Hours of Le Mans and 24 Hours of Daytona.

He is currently still involved in the sport as the owner of the two-car A.J. Foyt Racing team that competes in the Verizon IndyCar Series.

Spirit of Ford Award. Photo: Ford Performance

Spirit of Ford Awards Winners

-Bill Stroppe, 1988
-Bob Glidden, 1989
-Chris Economaki, 1990
-Richard Petty, 1992
-Bob Bondurant, 1993
-Mario Andretti, 1994
-Jackie Stewart, 1994
-Bud Moore, 1995
-Parnelli Jones, 1996
-Jim Clark, 1997
-Phil Hill, 1998
-Stirling Moss, 1998
-Bill France, Sr., 1998
-Bill France Jr. 1998
-Junie Donlavey, Jr., 1999
-Glen Wood, 1999
-Leonard Wood, 1999
-Dan Gurney, 1999
-Denise McCluggage, 2000
-Bill Elliott, 2000
-Carroll Shelby, 2001
-Wally Parks, 2001
-Ned Jarrett, 2003
-Mose Nowland, 2005
-Jack Roush, 2006
-John Force, 2010
-Kevin Kennedy, 2011
-A.J. Foyt 2017

GAINSCO partners with JDC-Miller for Simpson, Goikhberg

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The bright yellow No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson, nicknamed the “JDC Banana Boat,” will morph into the latest incarnation of the bright red “Red Dragon” for 2018.

The now GAINSCO Auto Insurance-backed No. 99 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson will run the full 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, and the new livery will be revealed at the Roar before the Rolex 24.

GAINSCO revealed last month it wouldn’t run its own team, having partnered with Bob Stallings Racing for more than a decade with great success in GRAND-AM Rolex Series competition. But it was still going to partner with a team and received multiple proposals from other teams. The initial deal with JDC-Miller Motorsports is one year for 2018 with an option for 2019, but both parties envision this growing into a multi-year deal.

The last few years the team has run only on-and-off, with a one-off appearance in the 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona as Alex Gurney scored pole, but a devastating accident for Memo Gidley having left him seriously injured. Gidley has made significant strides in his recovery.

Since that point, GAINSCO/BSR moved into Pirelli World Challenge, running first a Hyundai Genesis, then a McLaren 650S GT3, and then a Porsche 911 GT3 R with Gurney’s longtime co-driver Jon Fogarty. The same level of success was hard to find and while the team scored several podium finishes, wins eluded them over two years.

Alas, this provides John Church’s quality operation a major supporter both from visibility and agent standpoints, as GAINSCO is one of the biggest at-track activators in the sport. Primary drivers Stephen Simpson and Misha Goikhberg continue for the full season with Chris Miller the third driver for Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup rounds.

A fourth driver will be named later (likely within the next week to 10 days), but won’t be Jon Fogarty, as Bob Stallings offered him the opportunity but Fogarty declined owing to other business commitments.

“We offered Jon Fogarty the opportunity, took a couple days (to think), he couldn’t feature anyone else driving but him… he has successful business ventures and that takes priority at this time,” Stallings said.

Church and Stallings. Photo courtesy of GAINSCO Racing

Stallings, Executive Chairman of GAINSCO, as well as the founder of the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Race team, recently decided not to run his own race team, but is committed to continuing the legacy of the Red Dragon by partnering with an organization capable of a long-term winning program.

“We had many opportunities to continue our quest for championships and JDC-Miller MotorSports was an easy pick,” said Stallings of the Minnesota-based team. “John Church and John Miller have established themselves as a team to be reckoned with, even against the formidable competition in IMSA.”

“We are very honored to gain the support of GAINSCO Auto Insurance and to carry on the livery of the No. 99 Red Dragon,” Church added. “It was immediately evident that the GAINSCO folks are as committed as we are.  This is a tremendous opportunity for JDC-Miller MotorSports and we look forward to the season ahead.”

Andy Jordan, Sr. Vice President of Marketing and Business Development led the search for the GAINSCO’s 2018 racing partnership.

“We were amazed and flattered by the amount of interest we received from teams who felt their racing programs would be elevated by an opportunity to partner with us and run the famous “Red Dragon” livery.  There were several important considerations for GAINSCO; the team had to compete at the highest level, and it had to feel like the kind of family we could be a part of and believe in.

“JDC-Miller Motorsports was the team we kept coming back to.  They race prototypes, they are great people, they are committed to win and the parallels between JDC-Miller Motorsports today and GAINCSO/Bob Stallings Racing in 2006/2007 were abundant.  I couldn’t be prouder and more excited to join John and his team for the 2018 season and hopefully beyond.”

JDC-Miller is adding a second car this season, with Simon Trummer its first confirmed driver and Robert Alon having tested with the team at Daytona earlier this month. This car will maintain the “banana boat” livery and will announce the rest of its program later.

Church said there “hasn’t been a discussion” in terms of adding Bob Stallings Racing personnel to JDC-Miller’s lineup as it sits, but it could be integrated.

The JDC-Miller Oreca 07. Photo courtesy of IMSA