by David Cook, images by Doug Breithaupt
In spite of the title moniker we have hung on him, AJ Foyt has enough international experience to qualify him as an "all-around" driver. But rather than chase his racing goals around the world, AJ simply preferred the "home cookin" of stateside ovals spiced with an occasional road course here and there.
Together Doug & I have assembled just a few of the cars that make AJ Foyt an American racing icon.
Foyt grew up around race cars based out of his father's Houston, TX garage where they were built and run on local dirt ovals. His bull-headed determination led to Indy car rides and an unrivaled record of wins and championships (7) during the USAC era (1960-1979). Along the way, he became the first to win Indy 4 times- 1961-64-67 & 77. Pictured is AJ's 1977 winning ride, a Coyote-Ford from the Johnny Lightning race car/pace car series.
AJ also campaigned in stock cars, working both the USAC series (now dead and gone) and the better-known NASCAR circuit. His most important win was the 1972 Daytona 500. The Ford Torino Cobra like to the one pictured here by Racing Champions was A.J.'s ride in the early 1970's. By 1977, he was driving an Oldsmobile Cutlass like the one shown here by Johnny Lightning.
Sports cars may have been only the spice on AJ's main course of racing but he did achieve one big international win as part of Ford's GT-40 effort, taking 1st at LeMans in 1967 partnered with the great Dan Gurney. Near the end of his driving career he also participated in some major team efforts to win the Daytona 24-Hrs in 1983 (Porsche 935) and 1985 (Porsche 962).
Foyt continued to drive Indy cars well past his prime until finally the ravages of time and gravity prevented him from even qualifying at Indianapolis. He gave up this part of his career reluctantly but stays involved as a team owner in the IRL series. His car took Swede Kenny Breck to an Indy win in 1999. This winning car is pictured here by Johnny Lightning and is a real beauty, very realistic, including the sculpted ground-effects bottom.
In addition to his Indy car team, Foyt also runs race teams in NASCAR Winston Cup and Busch Grand National, the latter team featuring driver and younger son Larry Foyt. A grandson, AJ IV is making is taking his first steps in sprint cars.
1977 Indy 500 - Johnny Lightning
1970 Ford Torino Cobra - Racing Champions
1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass - Johnny Lightning
1967 Le Mans Ford GT Mk. IV - Hot Wheels
1999 Indy 500 - Johnny Lightning