Petition now up for awarding Presidential Medal of Freedom to racing icon A.J. Foyt


A.J. Foyt has won the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500, the Rolex 24 at Daytona, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. But a fan petition is seeking to give him one more special accolade.

On the White House’s petition page, a fan from St. Louis, Missouri has created one asking President Barack Obama to award Foyt with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The petition, posted yesterday, is short and sweet: “In honor of his 80th birthday and his unequaled record of winning in all forms of auto racing, including four wins at Indianapolis, we petition President Obama to award A.J. Foyt the Medal of Freedom.”

Along with the comparable Congressional Gold Medal (which is bestowed through an act of the U.S. Congress), the Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian award in our country. It is awarded to individuals who have made “especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

The petition needs to have 100,000 online signatures by March 8 in order to receive a response from the Obama administration.

Seven-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Richard Petty was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President George H.W. Bush in 1992 following the end of his own superb driving career. He is currently the only racer ever to receive the honor.

Foyt, a four-time Indy 500 champion, is currently a team owner in the Verizon IndyCar Series. He is recovering from complications that occurred after undergoing triple-bypass heart surgery in November 2014 and celebrated his 80th birthday this past January.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.