“Super Tex” turns 82 today.

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In a driving career that spanned four decades, Anthony Joseph Foyt won 14 national titles and 172 major races.  He won on three continents and in five countries, including the U.S., France, Great Britain, New Zealand and Canada.  Foyt raced in IndyCar, stock car and sports car events, and won in 15 of the 19 states in which he competed.  He and Mario Andretti [Daily Dose, 4/6/16] are the only men in history to have won both the Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500, and the two were named “co-Drivers of the Century” by the Associated Press in 1999.  Foyt has won more United States Auto Club [USAC] races—138—than any driver in history.  He was the first driver to win the Indy 500 four times and was named one of NASCAR’s “50 Greatest Drivers” in 1998.  Foyt is the only driver in racing history to win Indy, the Daytona 500, 24 Hours of Daytona, and 24 Hours of Le Mans.

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Born in Houston, Texas, on this date in 1935, Foyt attended three high schools—including Houston’s San Jacinto High, alma mater of beloved broadcaster Walter Cronkite, before dropping out to become a mechanic.  He started racing midget cars at 18, driving a car owned and maintained by his father.  His first midget car win came in 1957 at Playland Park, a quarter-mile dirt track in his hometown, launching one of the most remarkable careers in auto racing.  The following year, he joined USAC and competed in his first Indianapolis 500, finishing 16th.  Foyt won his first IndyCar race in 1960, one of four wins he posted that year, and claimed his first national championship.  One year later, he became the first driver to successfully defend his points championship and win the Indy 500.  Foyt was dominant in 1964, setting a record winning percentage of .769 after winning ten races in 13 starts.

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In addition to winning his fourth national title in 1964, Foyt won his first stock car race–in the Firecracker 400 at Daytona.  It would be one of seven wins he posted in NASCAR.  His final stock car win came in 1972, at the Miller High Life 500 at Ontario Motor Speedway.

Two weeks after winning the 1967 Indy 500, Foyt raced in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where he partnered with Dan Gurney.  When Gurney overslept and missed a driver change in the middle of the night, Foyt was forced to double-stint and wound up driving 18 hours of the 24 hour race.  He won, marking the only time in history that a driver has won Indy and Le Mans in the same year.  He capped off the season by earning his fifth national championship.

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The Indianapolis 500 bills itself as The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.  Held at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the last weekend in May, the Indy 500 is the most prestigious event in open-wheel racing.  Indy is the crown jewel of the “Triple Crown of Motorsport,” which includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Monaco Grand Prix.  A. J. Foyt is synonymous with Indy:  the tough Texan is a legend at The Brickyard.  He has competed in 59 straight 500’s.  From 1958 to 1993, he drove in the Indianapolis 500 for a record 35 consecutive years, and has competed in 24 more as an owner.  Super Tex is the first of only three men in history to win the event four times.  His first win came in 1961, and he took the checkered flag again in 1964, 1967, and 1977.  Foyt won as an owner in 1999, when Kenny Brack finished first while racing for Foyt Enterprises.  He holds several Indy 500 records, including most races led [13] and most laps run [4,909].    Foyt is the first driver to top one million dollars in career earnings at Indy.  The “Greatest 33” is a list of the top drivers in the history of the Indianapolis 500.  Number one on the list—in the pole position—is Anthony Joseph Foyt.

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Foyt won seven USAC IndyCar national championships .  The last came in 1979, a year in which he also won the USAC stock car championship, making him the only driver in history to win both titles in the same year.

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Brash and intimidating, A.J. Foyt has been called the toughest SOB in sports.  He broke his back twice—in 1965, and again in 1972.  He has sustained burns on his face and hands, was run over by his own race car, and nearly lost his right arm at Michigan in 1981.  At Road America in 1990, Foyt nearly lost a leg—leaving him with permanent limp.  In the past decade, Foyt has faced his most serious health issues, including systemic shock from a killer bee attack, nearly drowning in an enclosed bulldozer dumped into a pond, and triple bypass surgery.  Despite these health challenges, Foyt competed [as an owner] in his record 59th straight Indianapolis 500 in May 2016.

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In 369 IndyCar starts, A.J. Foyt had 67 wins and 117 podium finishes.  He holds the IndyCar record for most wins in a season [10] and one of a dozen drivers to have had completed the triple crown of endurance racing [24 Hours of Le Mans, 12 Hours of Sebring, 24 Hours of Daytona].  Even after establishing himself as a top driver, Foyt continued to race both midget and sprint cars at small, local events as a way of thanking promotors who have given him his start.  After retiring as a driver in 1993, the self-made millionaire turned to fielding two teams in the Indy Racing League.  As an owner, Mr. Foyt has won five national IndyCar titles.

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A.J. Foyt was inducted into the Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1978 and International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2000.


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