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

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

Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale

Petit Le Mans championship
IMSA
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Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in a thrilling final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a 4.369-second victory over Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

“That was incredible,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Matt Yocum. “I’ve never dug so deep in my life. The adrenaline. I did that for the guys. I was so motivated to win this thing this weekend. But I’ve got to thank everyone on the whole team.”

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its season-opening victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Blomqvist said he gained the lead because of a shorter fuel fill after he had worked on being efficient in the second-to-last stint.

“The team asked a big job of me with the fuel; I had a big fuel number to hit,” Blomqvist said. “We knew that was probably our only chance. The yellow came at the right time and obviously we had a bit less fuel to fill up, so I was able to jump him and then it was just a matter of going gung-ho and not leaving anything on the line. And obviously, the opposition had to try too hard to make it work. I’m so thankful.”

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the first prototype championship for Meyer Shank Racing, which also won the 2021 Indy 500 with Castroneves.

“We’ve had in the last four years, three championships for Acura, the Indy 500 win and the Rolex 24, it doesn’t get any better,” team co-owner Mike Shank told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing, which won the first Daytona Prototype international championship in 2017. The premier category will be rebranded as the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with the LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”