BROOKLYN, Mich. - The stuff that comes out of AJ. Foyt's mouth usually shocks a lot of people. The four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 normally doesn't even have to try to be brash.
But Foyt surprised the racing world again yesterday when he said, in a roundabout kind of way dressed up in his Texas drawl, that prior to next season he would be turning over a lot of the day-to-day control of his racing team to his son Larry.
The 71-year-old Foyt said age and the cumulative effect of the injuries he suffered during his long racing career are working against him. Foyt, who ran in the Indy 500 for 35 straight years, had a track doctor at Riverside International Raceway declare him dead at the scene of a crash in 1965. Foyt suffered severe chest injuries, a broken back, and a fractured ankle in that incident.
"Most of my race injuries are starting to show up," the elder Foyt said. "I had a new knee put in three and a half weeks ago, and everybody said there's nothing to it, you'll be up and walking right away. Well, I'm up, but that's about it."
Foyt said he expected to stay involved in the racing operation, but that he felt it was time to turn the bulk of the work over to someone younger and more energetic. Larry Foyt will carry the title of team manager for A.J. Foyt Racing, a team that has not won a race since the 2002 season, and has just two wins in the last seven-plus years.
"I'm not stepping down, but I'm getting him back home to help run the operation, so we can be more competitive," A.J. Foyt said. "You need to have more people involved, and I can only do so much."
Larry Foyt has been pursuing a career in stock car racing, with limited success, and currently does not have a ride in any series. He ran in last year's Indy 500 and finished last after crashing 14 laps into the event, and was 30th in the 33 car field at Indy this year.
"We've been talking about it for a while, kicking it around, but you know A.J., he's definitely not going to turn the keys over to anyone - he'll be around," Larry Foyt said. "I have been living in Charlotte, but there are not many opportunities for me in NASCAR right now, so there's a good possibility you'll see me moving to Texas and working on the IndyCar program."
Larry Foyt, who is actually A.J.'s grandson, was adopted by his grandparents after Larry's parents divorced when he was two years old.
A.J. Foyt refers to Larry as his son. Larry said after he earned a degree in communications at Texas Christian University, A.J. Foyt was good to his word and gave Larry the opportunity to race.
"He told me that if I got a college education, he'd help me with my racing career. He's always lived up to his promises," Larry Foyt said.
The younger Foyt also indicated that he plans to frequently tap into A.J. Foyt's storehouse of knowledge.
"When A.J. was racing and winning, he was his own engineer. He's probably forgotten more than most people will know," Larry Foyt said.
"People don't realize that he's gone through a lot, and I'm glad to see him finally realize that maybe he should take a step back. But he'll be around, and we still need him around."
A.J. Foyt Racing's entry in yesterday's Firestone Indy 400 at Michigan International Speedway, Jeff Bucknum driving the ABC Supply Co. car, finished 14th.