Phoenix International Raceway unveiled the winner’s trophy for this weekend’s (April 2) return of the Indy Cars to PIR, and it is titled the “A.J. Foyt” trophy, in honor of racing legend A.J. Foyt, who was on hand for the unveiling, at the Heard Museum, in Phoenix, AZ.
Drivers Graham Rahal and Ed Carpenter, joined Foyt, PIR, and Indy Car dignitaries at the unveiling, and the best part of the event arose from the anecdotes shared by all, but mostly Foyt.
Here’s a sampling:
A.J. Foyt (4X Indy 500 Champ; Winner at LeMans 24 Hours, Daytona 500, and much, much, more)
- Foyt won the 1st ever Indy Car race, at PIR, in 1964
- Foyt also won a race at the Phoenix Fairgrounds, on dirt, in which he lapped two time Indy 500 winner, Roger Ward.
- Foyt contrasted the difference between driving an IndyCar and a stock car, as similar to driving a midget race car to driving a Greyhound bus.
- Foyt’s 1st Indy Car ride was for Phoenician Clint Brawner, and he was afraid he would lose that ride before he got it, when he was unable to locate Brawner’s house for their meeting. Foyt was searching for Brawner’s house on 7th Avenue, while Brawner lived on 7th Street. If you live in Phoenix, you know the problematical difference between the two streets.
- Foyt shared that, in his opinion, today’s rear engine, downforce, IndyCar’s are much easier to drive than the front engine roadsters he cut his racing teeth in. A major part of that difference is weight distribution. Today’s IndyCar’s carry about 18 gallons of fuel, vs. the 75 gallons of fuel the front engine roadsters hauled. That’s a lot of unstable weight moving around!
- Most humbly, Foyt shared that he felt today’s driver’s, overall, are much better than those of his era. We’ll leave that to be debated by all, but a high compliment, none the less, to the disciplines and skill levels, today’s drivers bring to the sport.
- Ed Carpenter drove for A.J. Foyt, for one year in the Indy Lights Series, including here at P.I.R. He also raced in the Copper World Classic on four different occasions.
- Graham Rahal, while having never raced at P.I.R., was in Victory lane with his father, Bobby Rahal, following his 1992 Indy Car victory. Rahal shared that he subsequently “broke” his dad’s PIR trophy, when he kicked, and bounced a soccer ball off of it, at their home. And, that is his Phoenix connection.