It’s a case of good news, bad news for A.J. Foyt Racing heading into the IZOD IndyCar Series’ Iowa Corn Indy 250 this weekend.
The bad news first: for another race, the eponymous and legendary team owner will be absent. Foyt told USA Today via phone on Thursday that he may need further work done after back surgery in April. Doctors will determine whether the 78-year-old will need hip replacement or further back surgery.
If there is a bright side, the three races Foyt has missed this year have been three where his new driver, Takuma Sato, has starred in the No. 14 ABC Supply Co. Dallara-Honda.
Sato won his first race overall and the team’s first since 2002 at Long Beach in April and nearly followed it with an encore in Brazil two weeks later (finished second). Last weekend, he led a race-high 109 laps in Milwaukee only to fade to seventh at the finish thanks to an ill-timed last yellow flag. He currently sits fourth in the championship standings.
Larry Foyt, A.J.’s son who has taken over the day-to-day operations of the team and done a great job to turn around the team’s fortunes, admitted if the tough-as-nails “Super Tex” isn’t at a race, it’s not by choice.
“He’s about as tough as they come,” he told USA Today. “When he’s not coming to races, you know something is wrong.”
Racing is an inherently dangerous sport.
The Racing Safety United (RSU) alliance aims to reduce some of that risk with the formation of a multi-discipline advocacy group that includes all major stakeholders of the sport: sanctioning bodies, drivers, track owners and equipment manufacturers – just to name a few of the many businesses that impact a driver’s welfare once they strap into the seat of a racecar.
Originally spearheaded by sports car driver RJ Valentine, the alliance initially intends to focus on track safety. Because expenses can be razor thin for short tracks, a financial aid program is in the works to help with safety upgrades.
“As a racer, I’ve witnessed a lot of horrible crashes and it always astounds me that, for the most part, the motorsports community continues to accept it, including drivers,” Valentine said in a press release. “Because safety improvement adoption is slow, I realized we need support from constituents in all sectors of motorsports to make any real changes happen.
“Initially, track safety is one of RSU’s top priorities, mainly because it receives the least amount of attention. However, we intend to address all safety areas from helmets to driver education.”
RSU’s first official meeting is scheduled on December 6th during the PRI Show to discuss and prioritize safety initiatives.
The RSU is currently made up of 30 members including former NASCAR driver Jerry Nadeau, NHRA team owner Don Schumacher, Flying Lizard owner Darren Law, Randy Lajoie – owner of The Joie of Seating, sportscar driver Andrew Pilgrim and journalist Dick Berggren.
More information can be found on the RSU site.