IndyCar: Texas prez grants A.J. Foyt official rights to ’97 IRL race trophy as birthday gift

A.J. Foyt and his team celebrates Billy Boat’s apparent win at Texas Motor Speedway in 1997. One day later, Arie Luyendyk won his protest of the results and was granted the victory. Foyt never gave back the trophy. Credit: Texas Motor Speedway

In a career full of memorable moments both in and out of the cockpit, A.J. Foyt’s post-race incident at Texas Motor Speedway in 1997 stands out.

Foyt’s driver, Billy Boat, had appeared to win the first Indy Racing League event on the 1.5-mile oval. But Arie Luyendyk charged into the Foyt team’s celebration in Victory Lane to protest the outcome.

To put it mildly, Foyt took exception.

One day later, after USAC admitted to a malfunction of its timing and scoring equipment, Luyendyk was awarded the True Value 500k win.

The Dutchman never got the original trophy, though. He was given a replica instead, because the original remained in Foyt’s possession. And since then, TMS president and general manager Eddie Gossage has sought to retrieve it.

But with the four-time Indianapolis 500 champion celebrating his 80th birthday this afternoon, Gossage says he’s decided to grant the trophy’s “official rights” to Foyt as a gift.

“Ever since 1997, I’ve been trying to get back the True Value 500k winner’s trophy from A.J. since Arie Luyendyk was named the rightful winner of that controversial Indy Racing League race,” Gossage said in a statement released today.

“What better gift than acknowledge that it is his to keep now and forever and I will no longer badger him about giving it back.

“All I ask is that he puts a bow on it and changes the nameplate to ‘Happy 80th A.J. – Keep Up The Good Fight!'”

Gossage, who also wished Foyt a speedy recovery from his recent triple bypass heart surgery, went on to add that every time he saw Foyt, he would remind him that he wanted the trophy back – to which Foyt would “grumble at me and tell me to come down there and take it from him.”

We’re not surprised about that in the slightest.

Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
James Gilbert/Getty Images

Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.