Abraham Jacob (A.J.) Watson, who won the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race six times as a race car builder and four as chief mechanic, died May 12 in Indianapolis. He was 90.
Watson also won three USAC national championships. Four-time Indianapolis 500 champion Anthony Joseph (A.J.) Foyt called Watson "a pioneer."
Eleven of Foyt's 67 career Indy car victories came in either Watson or Watson-Trevis roadsters, including his first two Indy 500s (1961 and '64). Foyt drove Watson's sprint car in 1960, winning the USAC Eastern Division title. Foyt continued to drive Watson's sprint car off and on through 1968, winning his final race for Watson at Ascot in Gardena, Calif., in 1967.
"I was very good friends with A.J. Watson and his wife Joyce. He picked me up to drive his sprint car years back. We worked right there at his house, took the 220 Offy and built the Chevrolet," Foyt said. "He came out against Kurtis and built the Watson roadster and I was lucky enough to win with it. In his day right here at the Indy 500, there was nobody that was going to beat the three W's: Watson, Wilke and Ward.
"It's hard to believe he's gone. I'm just glad I was able to go see him on his 90th birthday (May 8). We did talk about old times. He had a picture of me and him with his sprint car on the wall and I teased him, 'A.J. were we ever that young?' He said, 'It's hard to believe, isn't it?' "
Watson, inducted into the Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1996, earned his first Indy 500 win in 1955 as chief mechanic on the John Zink team with Bob Sweikart driving. He won for the first time as a constructor the next year with Pat Flaherty winning from the pole.
Join celebs for breakfast at the Speedway
Reigning Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan, 2011 Indy 500-winning car owner Bryan Herta, AFS KV AFS Racing driver Sebastian Saavedra, NBCSN announcer Jon Beekhius and three-time Indy 500 winner Johnny Rutherford will be on hand for the fourth Indy 500 breakfast May 24 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Make reservations at www.indycarministry.
Jack Arute will be the master of ceremonies of the program, during which the Lone Star Johnny Rutherford Award will be presented.
Special pricing for 2015 Grand Prix of Indianapolis
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is offering special pricing through June 9 for re-ordering tickets for the 2015 Grand Prix of Indianapolis, tentatively scheduled for May 9.
Fans renewing their seats for the 2015 Grand Prix of Indianapolis may use two ways to order:
1. Visit www.ims.com/tickets, log in to your account, and reorder your tickets.
2. Mail your 2015 Reorder Form (enclosed with your 2014 tickets) to:
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
P.O. Box 21524
Speedway, IN 46224-0152