- Auto Racing - Another Foyt set to ride

Tuesday, January 23
Another Foyt set to ride

A.J. Foyt wasn't around much while his grandson Larry was growing up on his Texas ranch.

The first four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 and one of the greatest drivers in history was busy racing and running his own team.

Larry Foyt, A.J. Foyt
A.J. Foyt, right, is holding up his end of the bargain with his grandson Larry Foyt.
After his parents divorced when he was 2, Larry was adopted and raised by his grandparents, whom he refers to as mom and dad.

"He was gone quite a bit and I spent most of my time with Lucy, my mom," said Larry, 23.

Now, after earning a degree in communications at Texas Christian University, Larry has gone into the family business, taking up racing and showing enough promise in a year in the American Speed Association to make it into NASCAR's Busch Series this year as part of A.J. Foyt Racing.

"I knew when I was just a little kid that racing was what I wanted to do," Larry said.

A.J. Foyt had pledged that if Larry got a college education, he'd help his racing career. "He lives up to his promises," Larry said.

It took some convincing, though.

"The biggest thing I always preached to all my kids is education," Foyt said. "But I tried never to talk against racing because it's done so much for me. When it was the right time, I threw him out on his own in ASA. He pretty much handled his team himself, and he did a great job.

"He's got a good head on his shoulders. and he doesn't do anything stupid. If you watch him this year, I think you'll see how smooth he is on the racetrack."

Larry began his career in go-karts and moved to Formula 2000, dreaming of following the lead of A.J. to open-wheel stardom. So how is it that Larry now finds himself racing stock cars and working his way toward Winston Cup?

"You know, I've been to Indy every year of my life, and that's what made me want to be a racer," he said. "It's still my dream to race at Indianapolis."

A.J. had wanted him to try stock cars. Although his heart wasn't in it at first, Larry soon came around.

"Once I made up my mind it was the right way to go, I did all right," he said.

His oldest brother, Tony, is a horse trainer of some note, while middle brother Jerry tried his hand at racing and didn't make much of a splash.

"Jerry had dreams and never was able to make them come true," said Larry, who hopes for a different ending.

A.J., who has had some success as the owner of a team in the Indy Racing League - winning a championship and an Indy 500 -- started his own Winston Cup team last year and is adding the Busch team to the mix in 2001.

"We had problems last year right from the start," he said of his Winston Cup car, to be driven this year by rookie Ron Hornaday. "We got a late start and we weren't making races early in the season.

"Then we made a lot of personnel changes through the year. Now we've got good people, we've got a good driver and we've got good cars."

Larry is impressed by the improvement he has seen in the Foyt operation.

"I want to be here and learn the business from the ground up," he said.

Larry has also found the Foyt name can have drawbacks.

"Of course, there are some expectations that come with the name," Larry said. "When I was in F2000, it was a part-time deal because I was going to school and wasn't putting the time into it that it needed. That made me look bad because, even in F2000, there were expectations."

But he can deal with that as long as he's getting the chance to show what he can do.

His teacher not only won open-wheel and sports car races but also seven Winston Cup events -- including the 1972 Daytona 500.

"Sometimes, in the car, I'm more worried about what he's thinking, which is probably not good," Larry said. "But you've got to understand that he's very demanding. He even chewed me out in Victory Lane one time after I won a go-kart race because he didn't like the way I drove that day.

"But, I know one thing for sure: he cares."