A Sports Writing Career
I’ve had a wonderful time interviewing athletes in a variety of sports. The sports writing spans from tennis to football to baseball and more. But some of the most interesting interviews center around race cars and drivers. Indy car races are my favorite.
So imagine how fun it was to speak with the Foyt family. I enjoyed interviewing A.J. about his legendary racing career for Houston Lifestyles & Homes. I also interviewed his son Larry just after he got married — what a fabulous wedding that was!
Here’s the full article below.
A. J. Foyt
By Melanie Saxton
Anthony Joseph Foyt Jr. — better known as the legendary A. J. Foyt — is the all-time winner of 67 Indy car races and 12 national titles. He is also the first four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500. Amazingly, he is the only driver to have conquered what many consider the “triple crown” of racing — winning the Indianapolis 500, the 24 Hours of LeMans and the Daytona 500. Although busy with his enterprises and retired from the track, he was tapped to replace Donald Trump behind the wheel of the Indianapolis 500 ceremonial pace car May 29th to the delight of fans. This special date marks the 50th anniversary of his first win in 1951. But when asked about what is most important to him, this native Houstonian says, “My family.”
With Father’s Day come memories of his own upbringing. He shadowed his dad at their family garage, learning how to build cars and knowing from the age of 5 that he wanted to race them. “My daddy was the greatest influence on my life,” says Foyt. “As a teen I made the mistake of outrunning the cops, then lied to him about it. He found out and punished me for one year where I had to report to his shop right after school and I couldn’t drive my car. Even at Christmas, my mother and grandmother pleaded with him to let me off and he wouldn’t. It really impressed me not to get in trouble anymore.”
Those lessons passed down from his father shaped his life, and as the husband of Lucy (whom he married in 1955), and a father of four. Foyt revels in the success of his children. Tony (A.J. III) manages the Foyt cattle ranches, and operates the Foyt Game Ranch in Del Rio, Texas. Daughter Terry is the president of Foyt Realty in Houston. Jerry manages a Lexus dealership. Larry is the team director of A.J. Foyt Racing and also drives in selected NASCAR events. Grandson Anthony Foyt IV has had a long racing career and married Indianapolis Colts vice president Casey Irsay. On Sept. 18, 2010, the couple announced the birth of, Anthony Joseph Foyt V, A.J.’s newest great-grandchild and namesake. Youngest son, Larry, has attended every Indy 500 since his birth. “My parents are my role models and huge influences on my life,” says Larry. “We were all worried about my mom, who had a triple bypass in February. Then my dad had an angiogram, which showed a 99 percent blockage in an artery. Thank God they are both fine, although my dad missed the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in March due to his angioplasty. But he quickly made his way out to the ranch —unstoppable, as usual.”
Recently, Larry and A.J. Foyt IV launched a new venture — Foyt Family Wines. “We founded the label as a tribute to our patriarch,” says Larry. They introduced their first Collectors Series wine with No. 77 — named after the year (1977) A.J. Foyt became the first driver to win the Indianapolis 500 four times. “The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Mt. Veeder Napa Valley Appellation really is a celebration of our family,” says Larry. “I’m so glad we can honor my father’s successes in this special way. And I would like to say, Happy Father’s Day, Dad!” For the history of A.J. Foyt Racing, visit www.foytracing.com. For the history of Foyt Family Wines, visit foytwines.com.