A.J. Foyt talks with Bob Allen

May 14, 2009 7:50:36 PM PDT
He is a Houston racing legend with his own legendary rivalry. In an exclusive interview, A.J. Foyt talks about his competitors on the track. [SPORTS BLOG: Read the latest from the Eyewitness Sports team]

Foyt was the first driver ever to win four Indianapolis 500's, he holds the record with 67 career victories, and he is the only racer to win all the crown jewels of racing: Indy 500, Daytona 500, and the 24 hours of Le Mans.

I sat down with the sports legend to hear from A.J. Foyt in his own words.

He ran his last race as a driver in 1993 and now he owns and runs A.J. Foyt Racing with two cars entered in the 2009 Indianapolis 500. The native Houstonian is 74-years-old now and I caught up with him at his race shop in Hockley.

Some of the adjectives that have been used to describe Foyt: tough, hard-headed, hot-tempered, and profane.

"Yea, I guess I'm still that way a little bit. I don't think that ever comes out of you," said Foyt.

Foyt doesn't mince words. His longtime nemesis has been another racing legend, Mario Andretti.

Of Andretti, Foyt said, "He's a hell of a competitor, but a big crybaby. I mean, we're still good friends, but you never beat him fair and square. You could beat him ten times in a row, but there's always a reason why he lost."

I reminded Foyt that he and Andretti were not good friends and have never gotten along.

"Well, I'll agree there," said Foyt.

When I asked for his answer to the great debate of who is the greatest race car driver ever, he or Andretti, Foyt said, "Well, I think you go back and look at the wins, I had about twice as many wins and I've done things he's never done. So you gotta call a spade a spade."

Another example of the legendary Foyt temper was in 1997 when he confronted Arie Luyendyk at Texas Motor Speedway.

"That was kind of an accident that I did that. I was just trying to get him out of the victory circle," said Foyt.

At 74, Foyt has mellowed a little and he is very much a family man. His late father Tony built his first race car out of their race shop in The Heights when Foyt was just 16. Tony died in 1983.

"I likely never got over that. You know, I still think of my Daddy," said Foyt.

He's been married to wife Lucy for 54 years. They have three children, and he and Lucy came from very different backgrounds. He was the tough guy from The Heights with grease under his fingernails and like to race cars. She grew up in privilege in River Oaks.

"It's been a good marriage. We've got three wonderful kids. She's put up with a lot of stuff," said Foyt.

When I asked him how did he want people to remember A.J. Foyt, he replied, "Just still A.J. Foyt. I mean, I'm not a high-falutin' guy, I'm not a big-time liver. My buddy Mario, he's the tuxedo guy. A.J. is not."

You know Foyt had to take one more shot at Andretti.

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