INDIANAPOLIS -- A.J. Foyt never wanted his boys to go into
auto racing. For a while it seemed like he would get his wish.
His oldest son, Tony, became a horse breeder and trainer. Middle
son Jerry gave racing a try, mainly in the Formula 2000 series and
in stock cars, but now manages an auto dealership near Houston.
It's the two youngest Foyt boys, 27-year-old son Larry and
19-year-old grandson A.J. IV -- Tony's son -- who are now following
closely in the old man's tire tracks. That's not what A.J. would
have preferred, but he couldn't have talked them out of it even if
he wanted to.
"It was good to me," said the elder Foyt, the first four-time
Indianapolis 500 winner and now a team owner in the Indy Racing
League and NASCAR's Nextel Cup series. "I never wanted any of my
kids to race because it is such a tough sport, but when that's all
they want to do, what can you say?"
Especially at Indianapolis, where the lure of the world's
richest and most tradition-filled race often draws sons, brothers,
cousins and nephews to the famed Brickyard. The Unsers and
Andrettis are the most prominent families, of course. Maybe the
Foyts will be joining them soon.
"If that's what they want to do, you try to make 'em as happy
as you can," the 67-year-old racing patriarch said. "Life goes by
a lot quicker than you think."
Foyt's grandson, whom he calls Anthony, began racing junior
dragsters at age 9, moved to go-karts two years later and then
raced sports cars and in the U.S. Auto Club Silver Crown series.
Two years ago, while also working on his grandfather's crew for
driver Airton Dare, he won the inaugural Infiniti Pro Series
championship, the IRL's developmental program for younger drivers.
He joined A.J.'s team as a driver last year and competed in 16
races, with his best finish 11th at Nazareth, Pa. He was 18th at
Indianapolis, the first Foyt in the race since his grandfather's
finale in 1992.
This year, for the first time, there may be two Foyts in the
Larry Foyt, who has driven without much success the past two
seasons in NASCAR, tested his father's IndyCar during the Rookie
Orientation Program at the Speedway on Monday, even though he was
exempt because of his NASCAR experience. He completed 59 laps with
ease, had a top speed of more than 210 mph and was smooth enough to
prompt serious consideration by his father to make him Anthony's
teammate for the May 30 race.
Nothing would make Larry happier.
"I've been here my whole life, watching this race, watching the
Indy 500," he said.
And that's not an exaggeration.
He was born in February 1977, three months before A.J. won the
race for the fourth time, and boasts that he attended that race and
every one since then. He also drove in NASCAR's Brickyard 400 last
year at the Speedway.
"I love this race track. This is the coolest place ever,"
Larry said. "It just felt right. Coming here just seemed like the
right thing to do."
A.J. has not officially confirmed his intention to let his son
drive in the Indy 500, but a news release from Foyt Racing on
Tuesday said he would be behind the wheel of a second Foyt entry
"if all goes according to plan."
In the meantime, Larry has even turned to Anthony for advice.
"Anthony's come so far in his year since he was here last year.
We had dinner last night and I talked to him for a while, just
things I need to know," Larry Foyt said. "You've also got A.J.
Foyt telling you a lot of things, and he can see what a lot of
people just can't see from just watching the car go around the
track, especially here. He made a couple little changes, and
everything seemed to help.
"I know it's going to be a lot more difficult when we try to
trim the car out and go a lot faster, so I don't want to be overly
excited, but it was still a big day for me to know you can do it
and go that fast."