Just about everyone has a favorite A.J. Foyt story -- either from personal interaction or as a race spectator. As the four-time Indianapolis 500 Mile Race winner celebrates his 80th birthday, a few individuals share recollections and best wishes. Share your own birthday wishes via Twitter HERE.
A.J. Foyt Racing will have two entries in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series -- the Nos. 14 (Takuma Sato) and 41 (Jack Hawksworth). Both have ABC Supply Co. as the primary sponsor.
Keith Rozolis, president and CEO of ABC Supply Co. Inc.: “A.J. Foyt is a true racing legend, and ABC Supply is proud to be celebrating our 10th anniversary as A.J. Foyt Racing’s sponsor. We wish A.J. a happy birthday and a successful year, both on and off the track."
Larry Foyt, A.J.'s youngest son and team director: “Dad always tells me that no one expected him to live a day over 21, so what a blessing to see him reach 80. He certainly has made it an exciting 80 years in many ways. To think that after all these years, it never fails that a fan or fellow competitor will come to me and share a story of how he has touched their life in a way they will never forget. His accomplishments on and off the track have been a source of pride ever since I was a little kid. The hardest part about dad's birthday is what do you get the man who has everything? Well I know what he wants the most, and that's race wins. Hopefully we can get him a few this year.”
Takuma Sato: "A.J. is an unbelievable person. I had heard of him when I was a boy, but until I got to know him I had no idea of all of the things that he has done in his life. I have worked my whole career to win at the highest levels of motorsport and I achieved one very significant win in IndyCar, which I am very proud of. Then I look at what A.J. has done … 67 wins in IndyCar. I respect him so much both from a racing driver's point of view and as a man. There is always a good laugh and big smiles where he is. I enjoy talking to him and listening to his stories or his yelling. He has given me a fantastic opportunity to be in a competitive IndyCar. I know he has had 80 very fast years. I hope I can deliver one big birthday present for him this year. I deeply appreciate all of his support and friendship over the past two seasons. I would not trade it for anything."
2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion Will Power: “He’s an absolute legend in the sport who won in many different cars around the world in a dangerous era of racing. He’s had quite a career. He’s an iconic team owner who won’t settle for anything but victory. It’s a funny combination A.J. Foyt and Takuma Sato. You think it wouldn’t be a good mix but then you look at Sato on the track and I think A.J. really appreciates a guy who puts absolutely everything into winning a race. That’s Sato all summed up; that’s A.J. all summed up.”
Art St. Cyr, president, Honda Performance Development: “A.J. Foyt is a living legend in American racing and a treasured member of the Honda Racing family. His remarkable life has been filled with adventure -- both on track and off -- and his racing accomplishments have been unmatched in this or any other era. We salute 'Super Tex' as he marks his 80th birthday, and look forward to celebrating many more victories with him in the years to come."
2014 Indianapolis 500 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay: “A.J. is one of the guys I idolized growing up because he could drive the wheels off of anything. He’s tough as nails; look at what he’s been through. He also has a heart of gold. He ended up flying my mom home (to Florida) when she was dying of cancer so I have a special place in my heart for A.J. Foyt."
3-Time Indianapolis 500 champions Helio Castroneves: “My first memory of AJ Foyt was of him in a black car. I don’t remember the year, but I do remember that it was a black car, number 14. My first memory was ‘how is that big guy going to fit in that car?’ Then, I realized it was AJ Foyt and I told myself that if I have a career half as successful as his, then I would be very satisfied. That guy is the man. Happy 80th birthday AJ! I hope you get well and you can see me join you in the club of four-time Indianapolis 500 winners this year.”
2000 Indianapolis 500 champion Juan Pablo Montoya: “No matter where in the world you are from or where you began your racing career, every driver heard the name AJ Foyt. Growing up as a kid in Colombia, I definitely knew who he was. He seemed to own the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and it is an honor to have my face on the Borg Warner trophy alongside his. As a sport, we are lucky to have him at the racetrack as an owner. He’s an icon in this sport and in this country. Happy 80th birthday AJ! Get back to the track soon!”
Verizon IndyCar Series team owner Sam Schmidt: "A.J. is such an icon, a larger-than-life guy who is an idol of every American race driver. He is the original racing bad ass, but he also has done so much for so many people in our sport. The numbers surrounding Super Tex’s career are staggering, but they don’t define him nearly as well as his unique personality and drive to be the best in everything to this very day. They say that age is just a number: That’s the truth with A.J. I look forward to seeing him at the track for years to come and am eager to lock horns with his team, with him on the pit box, for many more seasons."
Verizon IndyCar Series team owner Michael Andretti: “He’s a special guy. He’s always been my dad’s nemesis, but I was lucky enough to race against A.J. for a few years and I have a lot of respect for him for what he’s accomplished on and off the racetrack."
Verizon IndyCar Series team owner Bobby Rahal: “My favorite recollection of A.J. was my first year at Indy when he came by me on the straightaway shaking his fist at me. A.J. is an icon of the sport. If you look at everything he achieved over the years, it’s pretty impressive. The guy is part of American folklore and history so you have got to have a lot of admiration for everything he did and how he did it. They sure don’t make them like him anymore. It’s great to see him hit the 80-year mark and I’m sure he’ll be around for many more.”
Verizon IndyCar Series driver Graham Rahal: “A.J. Foyt is one of a kind. I know he has had some health struggles the past few years but to see his continued fight and his passion for racing to this day is impressive. To look at his success, not only in Indy car, but sports car racing and everything he’s even driven makes him the standard for any racing driver around the world. There is nobody that really compares to A.J. Foyt and its great to see him turning 80. I know he says that he will be at the Indy 500 and I’m looking forward to seeing him there. Seeing his team expand and everything Larry (Foyt) is doing is exciting for our sport, too. The Andrettis may argue with me on this but the Foyt name is one of, if not the greatest name in racing.”
Verizon IndyCar Series driver Simon Pagenaud: “First off I want to say ‘Happy Birthday, AJ.’ Congratulations on a life that has been incredible, one that would resonate anywhere in the world. To me, AJ Foyt represents one of the most-diverse drivers in history. Diversity is one of the biggest traits in INDYCAR today as you have to be skilled at so many disciplines to be successful. AJ is someone who could win anywhere and in any type of racecar. That’s what the name ‘Foyt’ means to me. He drove in the golden years of INDYCAR and I’m proud to say that I have been able to get to know him. It’s an honor to race against his teams. I’m just very honored to be part of a sport he helped define.”
Auto Club Speedway president Dave Allen: "A.J. has won a lot of races in California and all over the world. He's a national treasure and a hell of a race car driver."
NBCSN announcer and Racer.com writer Robin Miller: "Long before I got to meet, know, write about, argue and laugh with him, I got to watch A.J. work his magic in a race car. It was August of 1965 at Milwaukee and with his rear-engine Coyote out of commission Foyt rolled his dirt car off the trailer, bolted on some pavement tires and beat Dan Gurney and his Lotus to win the pole position. To this day it's still one of the loudest ovations I've ever heard at a racetrack and Foyt gave them plenty to shout about in the race as he led and muscled his dirt car around to finish second behind Gordon Johncock's rear-engine car. People that saw A.J. at the end of his career have no clue how talented he was, but on that day he was truly Super Tex."
Below is a gallery of 80 photos of Foyt's Indy car racing career: