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Indy Legends Pro-Am Rekindles Love of Racing for Foyt IV

His life has transitioned dramatically from driving race cars at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to becoming a married father of four who earns a living as an NFL scouting assistant with the Indianapolis Colts.

But A.J. Foyt IV sounds as enthused as anyone about the opportunity to be back at IMS for the Indy Legends Charity Pro-Am on Saturday, June 17 as part of the fourth annual Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational. The Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) event reunites him with teammate/car owner Chuck Bentley in a No. 00 silver 1967 Camaro Z28 they drove to a third-place finish in Foyt’s debut last year.

Foyt is still relatively young at 33, the second-youngest pro driver in the 34-car field, the youngest being 32-year-old Alex Lloyd. Foyt, the grandson of legendary four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt, arrived at IMS at such a young age. He made the first of his six “500” starts on his 19th birthday in 2003, making him the youngest driver to ever qualify for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

“As you get older, you kind of realize how lucky you were to do the Indy 500, especially to do it six times,” Foyt said after Friday’s practice. “It’s pretty special, looking back on it.

“Now, just to get to come back and drive one of these cool cars and get invited by (SVRA President) Tony Parella, it’s an opportunity I think you’d be silly to turn down if you’re a veteran driver. These guys really go out of their way to make it a first-class event. It’s really a fun event, and that’s what it’s mainly about, for us drivers to come out and have fun with the owners of our cars and be competitive, as well. That’s why I love the owner of my car, Chuck, because he wants me to be competitive and get on the gas.”

Foyt enjoys catching up with many of his old racing friends in an event featuring 33 former Indy 500 starters and NASCAR legends Bill Elliott and Ray Evernham. And Foyt particularly looks forward to sharing the track with four-time “500” winner Al Unser, who is making his SVRA debut on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course.

“I know, that’s not something you would never think would be possible,” he said of racing against “Big Al.” “To be in the same field with him, no matter what the outcome is, to be on the same pace lap as a guy like him is pretty special.

“It was cool to see at the Speed tent Donnie Beechler, Paul Tracy, Max Papis, a bunch of cool legends in my mind. Donnie Beechler drove for my grandfather when I was young, and I got to spend a lot of time with him when I was a kid, so I always looked up to Donnie as a good guy and a good driver.”

Foyt made his last Indy 500 start in 2009 and finished 16th driving for his grandfather. His best “500” finish was 14th in 2007 for Vision Racing.

In July of 2009, Foyt married Casey Irsay, daughter of Colts owner Jim Irsay. The next May, he was unable to qualify for the Indy 500 in a one-off attempt for his grandfather that marked the end of his Indy car career. Foyt joined the Colts as a scouting assistant in 2010.

Looking back, he has no regrets about not racing in the Indy 500 anymore. He’s realistic about his situation when he walked away.

“You definitely miss it,” he said. “It’s something that you can never fill in with anything else, that competitive sport, the speed, there’s nothing like it, for sure. But I was also smart enough to realize I can’t really compete with these guys that week in and week out do this. Just to come out and do a one-off Indy 500, yeah, it sounds great to say it, but it’s another thing to get out there and get with a good team and actually do it. You can’t grant that you’re going to go out there and just run the Indy 500. You’ve got to practice, you’ve got to qualify, and you’ve got to earn your spot in the field.

“I think I enjoy being around the track now, hanging out in the Turn 2 suites, hanging out with my grandfather. I come in there now pretty relaxed and can have some fun. I used to come in there just praying for a good day.”

Friday was a good day at IMS because he emerged from a brief practice run in the 1967 Camaro Z28 with confidence.

“It felt pretty good,” Foyt said. “We only did five laps. I scuffed in our race tires for (today). We didn’t want to wear ‘em out too much.

“I was a little worried. I was a little worried, like, ‘Man, I haven’t put my helmet back on since I came out here to do this last year.’ But it came back to me pretty quick. It was definitely a fun five laps. We’ve got a real fast car, so it’s pretty exciting.”

Then his good day brought him home to spend time with his children.

“The funnest thing I’ve ever done in my life is what I’m doing now, being a dad,” he said. “I just enjoy my kids so much. My 6-year-old, A.J. Foyt V, he’s the man. I enjoy hanging out with him. I’m at a really good place with all of my kids. I’m happy.”

He’s still unsure if one of his children will continue the family’s racing tradition.

“I told A.J. V I would get him a go-kart, but he’s into hockey right now,” he said. “He’s been playing hockey since he was 3. He’s into that. When I tell him I’d get him a go-kart, he says no. He likes going out to the track, but I don’t know. We got two other boys, so I’ve got a couple others to pick from.”

Foyt sounds refreshed and eager to race again.

“It feels like I’m old to be around there, I’ve been around there so many years,” he said. “I can still be a little bit young.”

Visit IMS.com to order tickets or learn more about the Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational. Ticket prices are $30 Saturday and $20 Sunday. Kids 15 and under are free when accompanied by an adult.

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