A.J. Foyt won his fourth Indianapolis 500 in 1977. (IMS Photo)
A.J. Foyt celebrates his fourth Indianapolis 500 victory in 1977. (IMS Photo)

Part One: Ask A.J. Foyt

Like many in America, race fans are spending more time on social media while maintaining social distance to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Through Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, A.J. Foyt Racing asked fans to submit questions for A.J. Foyt, who is maintaining his social distance on his ranch.

The response was terrific, so the team is sharing Foyt’s answers to the various questions over the course of the next couple weeks. Here is Round 1 of #AskA.J. …

Q: As you are considered to be the best racecar driver to ever suit up, what were the biggest problems you faced and how did you overcome those adversities throughout your career? – @DonTyle34948325 (Twitter)

A.J.: “The biggest problem I faced was that I was from Texas and when I started, to get to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, you had to be from California or probably the Midwest. If you didn’t come from California, you could hardly get a driver test at Indianapolis. I was fortunate enough that I ran the IMCA sprint cars and won at Salem, Indiana – a high-banked track. It was kind of a dangerous race track. I guess Clint Brawner was over there watching me race and figured I could make it. That was the biggest thing I had to overcome was to prove to them that I was a pretty good race driver. Lucky enough Al Dean from California picked me up and at that time Jimmy Bryan was a three-time national champion for them and to try to fill his boots was something else.

“I was just hoping and dreaming someday that I’d be good enough to qualify for the Indy 500. I didn’t have any money to go to California and race and come from there so I just had to start at home in Houston Texas and work my way up. I borrowed money from a bank and bought my own midget and ran some midget races on the way to Indiana and then I was lucky enough I got a ride there at Salem, won the race and the right people were there to see it. That was a highlight in my career when I was starting out.”

Q: My other question is what car owners had the biggest impact on your career? 

A.J.: “I would have to say Bob Bowes of Bowes Seal Fast. They picked me up and I worked with George Bignotti out of California. We had a great team, we got together. Fortunately, we got to winning races and won the championship in 1960, then came back and won Indy in 1961 [and a second title]. We stayed together and won a lot of races.

“I was qualified for Indy and I had my sprint car and two days before the 500, IRP [Indianapolis Raceway Park] was having a sprint car race and I said, I’ve got to go run my sprint car and Bob Bowes said, if you get hurt, don’t call me because I’ll be drinking at the bar and you’re on your own. I said, ‘Well I’ve got to make some money.’ Lucky enough, I went out there and won the sprint race and came back and ran pretty good at Indy.” [He won]

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