A.J. Foyt turns 80 on Friday and we’re celebrating his career all week here on The Blog, plus on IndyCar.com and the IndyCar app. Today, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president J. Douglas Boles shares two photos and a story about his childhood hero.
I grew up a racing fan. More specifically, an Indianapolis 500 fan. And, even more specifically, an A.J. Foyt fan! In fact, fan is probably a huge understatement. My mood was defined by how A.J. performed each race weekend (or qualifying session for that matter).
But, in 1980 – my relationship with A.J. Foyt went to the next level.
I loved USAC racing and when I heard A.J. would be driving in the 1980 Hoosier 100, I knew I had to be there. Not to watch the race, but to stand next to the fence until I could get my hero’s attention.
On Sept. 6, 1980, my dad, mom, and two sisters (reluctantly) loaded up in our 1977 Chevy Impala station wagon and made our way to the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Once we parked, I waited behind the chain link fence in the infield just behind A.J.’s car. Waiting for a glimpse of him and waiting for him to exit the garage area so I could meet him as he walked out.
A.J. started the day fourth, but it ended early (Lap 28) due to valve problems. So, I made my way with my dad and I asked for a photo. I was as nervous as I had ever been. So nervous, I don’t remember much else. Except waiting by the one-hour photo desk to make sure the photo made it!
When I got it – not blurry (no digital camera in those days to be sure), and me in the same frame as A.J. Foyt – I thought now THIS is the coolest photo in the world! And, even today – big glasses and all – it is still one of my favorite photos!
And I used the same process to meet A.J. at the 1982 Hoosier 100 – but this time wearing a super-cool Beach Boys 1982 tour T-shirt as well!