MINUTIAE

AJ Foyt on dirt racing BY:  Shane Walters

AJ Foyt has driven and won in everything there is to race; Dirt racing is his favorite

AJ Foyt is the only driver to win the Daytona 500, Indy 500, Rolex 24 at Daytona and 24 hours of Le Mans.

He’s a man that’s raced and one in just about everything. That of course, includes dirt cars.

AJ Foyt compares the Indy 500 to the Daytona 500

Nate Ryan: How would you compare the Indy 500 and the Daytona 500?

“Well actually, it’s two different types of race cars,” AJ Foyt stated ahead of the 2019 Daytona 500.

“A stock car, my daddy used to get made at me because he’d call them taxi cabs. Well, I call them race cars.”

“The Indycars, they’re a lot quicker. What I mean by that, on steering and all that. It’s just two different race cars.”

“I know a lot of friends of mine tried to adapt from one to the other and never could. I was lucky and I think you’re born with something like that.”

“It didn’t make no difference if it was sportscars or whatever. I was able to adapt myself pretty quick.”

“It’s hard for me to tell you the difference. I just know a stock car was a lot bigger than a little Indycar. On handling, they’re really two different types of race cars.”

“You have to adapt yourself to do that. I was lucky enough I could do that.”

AJ Foyt - Dirt Racing in 1961AJ Foyt – Dirt Racing in 1961

AJ Foyt on dirt racing

“I’ll tell you what… In my racing career, out of all the cars I drove. I probably had as much fun on a half-mile dirt track in a sprint car, than anything.”

“Cause you control it with your foot and all that. And you had a lot of power.”

“Out of my whole career, that was the most fun.”

AJ Foyt was the 1960 USAC Sprint Car Series champion. He’s also a 6-time USAC National champion.

AJ Foyt talks his Indycar program

These days, AJ Foyt is still involved in racing. He’s the owner of an Indycar Series team.

“Actually Larry, my son is running it. I go in when they need money and raise hell. But, that’s it.”

Several questions needed to be repeated in the media center. Other questions were read but he answered a different question because he didn’t hear it quite right.

“Sorry, I hate hearing aids because all they do, when you go take a leak or something… it sounds like 100 gallons of water running. That’s the reason I don’t like to wear them. I do have them,” Foyt concluded with big laughs from the media members.

AJ Foyt: Orange USAC Silver crown car

Here’s a little note. The orange USAC Silver Crown car that was used in this article is now owned by former NASCAR champion Tony Stewart.

The car was built by Grant King and owned by Sherman Armstrong. Foyt piloted the machine between 1974 and 1977.

The car was sold to Mike Sering after that. Jerry Nemire drove it between 1981-85 and alkso acquired ownership of the machine. After 1985, he retired it from competion.

“Our family and a few friends thrashed to put it together real quick and painted it because he wanted to take it to the Hoosier Hundred,” Kenny Nemire told Speed Sport in 2017.

“The car is basically all restored back to the way it came when Foyt had it. It has the original bumpers, actually the rear bumper is still the same chrome from 1974. It has the original upholstery. I think the only thing they put on it that isn’t original is the rear brakes.”

AJ Foyt sprint carAJ Foyt sprint car

Tony Stewart purchases AJ Foyt’s old USAC Silver Crown car

Stewart saw a story on the restoration. He then saw Jerry Nemire at the track and inquired about purchasing the machine.

“I saw the car and I saw Jerry at a race track sometime after that and said: ‘Hey, if you ever decide to sell that car, I’d love to have the opportunity to purchase it,’” Stewart said. “He was telling me it was his prized possession and probably would never sell it.”

Jerry became sick with cancer. He made the decision to sell his prized possession.

“I saw the car and I saw Jerry at a race track sometime after that and said: ‘Hey, if you ever decide to sell that car, I’d love to have the opportunity to purchase it,’” Stewart said. “He was telling me it was his prized possession and probably would never sell it.”

Stewart led Nemire to believe that he wouldn’t be there in person to pick up the car. He would instead send his father to get it.

When Nemire showed up, he stuck a conversation with Stewart’s dad. A man had his back turned during this time. When he turned around, it was Tony Stewart.

“I think it is important for everybody to see it and everybody to share it,” Stewart said.

“I can see Knoxville wanting to borrow it at some point and there are a lot of cool racing museums around the country. Stewart concluded, “I think as long as museums want to display it, I think it’s a great place for that car to go and let people have the opportunity to come see it and see the great job that Jerry and that group did to restore that car.”

The first stop for the machine was the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. It sat in the AJ Foyt exhibit.

“I hope he hangs on to it and takes it to all the different places and shows it so people can admire it,” Kenny Nemire said. “We know it will stay in the states and he’ll recognize that my dad restored it. My dad wanted him to have it.”