A.J. Foyt’s 1958 Indianapolis 500 Rookie Year

Published On March 17, 2011 » 4040 Views» By Donald Davidson » Blogs, Gasoline Alley Unplugged
A.J. Foyt's 1958 Indianapolis 500 Rookie Year

A.J. Foyt’s 1958 Indianapolis 500 Rookie Year

A.J. Foyt’s 1958 Indianapolis 500 Rookie Year

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Donald Davidson

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Historian Donald Davidson, based at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, developed a passionate interest in the Indianapolis 500 as a teenager in England. Arriving at IMS in 1964, he delighted the racing community with his ability to recite year-by-year accounts of participants’ careers. Returning permanently in 1965, he was invited by Sid Collins to join the worldwide IMS Radio Network and was hired by Henry Banks as USAC statistician, remaining at USAC for almost 32 years. He was named Indianapolis Motor Speedway historian in 1998. Along with numerous television and radio assignments, raconteur Davidson has played host to the popular call-in radio show “The Talk of Gasoline Alley” on 1070 AM in Indianapolis during the month of May continuously since 1971. His writing credits include countless historical articles and columns, a pair of “500” annuals in 1974 and ‘75 and co-authorship with Rick Shaffer of the acclaimed “Autocourse Official History of the Indianapolis 500,” published in 2006.
12 comments
AJ Hahn
AJ Hahn

That car was driven by both Foyt and Fangio. The only other car I can think of that could top that is the '67 LeMans winner, wich was driven by both Foyt and Gurney in the same race.

Dennis Johansen
Dennis Johansen

No its not Watson....cant remember his name but will try.... It caused my brain to start smoking when I tried.....

Racenutdon
Racenutdon

OK. So it's not tread WIDTH that the 18" refers to. My only personal reference point is dirt late model racing. I'm sorry. Back to the picture. Could the white flat top crew cut man on the right be AJ Watson?

Jjones
Jjones

Racenutdon, they were 18" dia. rims, not 18" wide, so as Dennis said, 8.20x18, would be 8.20" iwde at the belly of the tire. Looking at the proprotions of the tire in the pic, that would make the tread width about 5 to 5-1/2".

Dennis Johansen
Dennis Johansen

also...note the roll bar. Its the first year roll bars appeared. One on Foyts car and one on Bryans belond # 1 winning car. This pic was taken really early in may. Probably during the first week during rookie tests.

Dennis Johansen
Dennis Johansen

sorry left out The only place a tire can dissapate heat is thru the sidewall which is why the sidewalls on racing tires are sooo thin. They can hardly support the weight of the tire....the thinner the sidewall...the quicker the heat goes out the sidewall.

Dennis Johansen
Dennis Johansen

The Borg Warner replica was given tothe winner in the form of a plaque with the Borg Warner on it.

Dennis Johansen
Dennis Johansen

16 inch on the front 18 imch on the rear...Trust me The rears were I believe 8 20 X18 fronts 7 60 X16...The tread was strickly for measurement of wear and the driver cud see the tread. After the last tread was gone you had about 10 laps max. 18 inch on the rear 16 inch on the front...16 and 18 a tire thru the sidewall....which is why racing tires have such a thin sidewall. Its the only palce heat can be dissapated. Those tire were like concrete and we used to kid the Firestone guys, Steve Petrasik, Bill McCreary, Steve Petrasek, Del Neal and Bob Cassaday, that we cud see the sparks in 1. In 1956 the sidewalls were too thick and they had massive tire failure..ie Russo in the Novi in 1 and Bettenhausen in the 99 Balenger car. But yes Don...they were 18 inch tires on the rear..16 on the fronts.

Racenutdon
Racenutdon

There's no way that's an 18 inch tire on the rear. That would mean 3 feet of tire width across the rear. I believe an Outlaw sprint car runs that kind of tread width for ONE rear tire.

Racenutdon
Racenutdon

Tire tread was the prefered method of dissipating heat build up at that time. The question I thought about this morning after seeing this follows. Does AJ have any trophies for his accomplishments at Indy. He wasn't rookie of the year and the "Baby Borgs" didn't come along 'til after 1977. Thank you Donald for the history on the car.

Steve
Steve

I didn't know the answer right off the bat, but when I looked at how the two tread strips were on the outside edges of the RF and RR tires and the inside edge of the left tires, I'll have to say that the tread is only there so that the driver and crew can see how far the tires are wearing out....right?

Dennis Johansen
Dennis Johansen

Note the tread on the Firestone tires...can anyone tell me what purpose they served? They were for a reason...and it wasnt for grip....Those tires were really HARD. Racers used to joke aboutthe sparks they threw off in the turns. 16 inch tires for the front and 18 inch tires for the rear........