A.J. Foyt gained lasting fame as the first driver to win the Indianapolis 500 four times. In 1999, Kenny Brack took Foyt to Victory Lane at the Indianapolis 500 a fifth time, and Foyt was so excited he uttered the famous line “I’m so wonderful” in the post-race interview during the celebration.
“It was fantastic to be able to not only win it but to win it with A.J. and to put the car there for the fifth time for him,” said Brack, the 1998 Indy Racing League champion for A.J. Foyt Racing. “The success we had together not only at Indy but winning the championship in 1998 and we damn near won the championship in 1999 if it had not been a wheel bearing seizing up in the last race of the season.
“All in all, we had great success together.”
Brack, a boyish-looking kid from Sweden, and Foyt, the rough and tough Texan, formed quite a bond when they were together in the series. In 1997, Brack was a rookie in the Indy 500 driving for Galles Racing and never made it to the pace lap when all three cars in Row 5 crashed on one of the parade laps.
Two years later, he was the Indianapolis 500 winner driving for the biggest name in the history of the sport.
“I think that he became a father figure to me you could say,” said Brack, who now lives with his family in London. “When I came to A.J. I was well on my way in my racing career. I had been very competitive in Europe in F3000 and won a lot of races. I won the championship and had it taken away from me because I had been test driving in Formula One. In 1997 I did my first season in IndyCar racing but I didn’t really know much about it.
“When I came to A.J. he was this wealth of experience kind of guy. It was extremely exciting to me because I wanted to learn as much of possible. I couldn’t think of a better guy to do it with. For A.J. it wasn’t computerized the way racing even back then was. He knew the practical knowledge and that was very, very useful and exciting to be working with somebody like that and learn from.
“He knew at Indy what trees to look at to decide whether there was any point in running or not. He would peek out and look at his special trees and decide to wait if the wind changed direction or died down a bit because there was no point running at that time. Those are things you can never really learn unless you spend a lot of time and are really paying attention.
“It was like a university for me to race with him. I learned a lot from him.”
The “University of A.J. Foyt” taught Brack well and created a relationship that remains very special.
“Everyone loves winners so we got along really good – not only from a sporting perspective but personality wise,” Brack said. “We made it work. Still, to this day, we are very good friends. I talk to him quite often. We formed a lifelong-bond somehow.”