A. J. FOYT RACING TO ENTER AFRICAN-AMERICAN DRIVER CHASE AUSTIN IN THE 2013 INDIANAPOLIS 500
Starting Grid, Inc. and American Honda’s Motorsports Diversity Initiative Continues with Historic Effort
LEXINGTON, Ohio (August 4, 2012) - A. J. Foyt, in conjunction with Starting Grid, Inc. principal Chris Miles, announced today that 22-year-old Chase Austin will campaign an AJ Foyt Racing entry in the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 26, 2013, through a partnership with American Honda Motor Company Inc.
Austin made history last year when he became the first African-American driver to compete in the Firestone Indy Lights series with Willy T. Ribbs Racing. In qualifying for next year’s race, Austin stands to become only the third African-American driver to ever compete in the 97-year history of the Indianapolis 500.
“My son Larry [Foyt] and I have watched Chase drive and we want to give him a chance,” said A.J. Foyt, the first four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500. “What I like about him is that he has driven all types of race cars with different horsepower in his career, and I believe that’s important when evaluating talent. He’s done a real good job in the Lights series, and I believe he can qualify for the Indy 500 with Honda on board.”
“Chris approached me about fielding a car for Chase and I talked it over with Dad and we agreed that it could turn into something pretty cool,” said Larry Foyt, Team Director of AJ Foyt Racing. “Chris has put together a marketing program which will reach a new generation of fans, and I think this opportunity will not only be good for Chase and our team, but also for INDYCAR.”
This historic attempt for Austin to compete in the 2013 Indianapolis 500 is the continuation of a three-year motorsports diversity initiative between Starting Grid, Inc. and American Honda. Miles, a New Albany, Indiana native, who founded Starting Grid, Inc. 18 years ago to facilitate equal opportunities for minority participation within all facets of the motorsports industry - looks forward to the association with AJ Foyt Racing. “It is incredibly gratifying for me to have Starting Grid associated with such an American racing icon. I am extremely proud for Chase to receive this tremendous opportunity to race for AJ Foyt Racing as well. Chase has performed admirably with his limited experience in open-wheel cars, and I am completely confident in Chase’s ability to settle into the big cars with no problem,” said Miles.
“Words simply cannot express how appreciative I am for American Honda’s support of our motorsports diversity initiatives over the past two years, and I am thrilled to have the defending Indy 500 winning engine powering us towards history,” continued Miles.
Austin, from Eudora, Kansas, who has four Top-10 finishes in four career Firestone Indy Lights starts, including two starts at Indianapolis in the Freedom 100 and a career best eighth-place finish in Iowa this past June, welcomes the opportunity to race for AJ Foyt Racing, but is composed given the opportunity.
“For me to say that I am anything other than excited about this opportunity to compete in the Indianapolis 500 with AJ Foyt Racing and Honda next year, would pretty much be an understatement. However, at the end of the day, I will have a job to do and that is what Chris [Miles] and A.J. will be expecting out of me,” said Austin.
“I want to thank my parents, my family and friends who have been supporting me all these years - and a big thank you to Chris for believing in me and providing this incredible opportunity. I cannot wait to spend more time with A.J. When I met with him in Iowa, he started sharing some of the best stories. I really don’t know what to expect come May, but you can bet we will have a lot of fun,” Austin said.
About Chase Austin:
At 14, Chase Austin became the youngest driver to ever sign a driver development contract in NASCAR when he signed with Hendrick Motorsports. In 2011, at 21 years of age, Austin debuted in the Firestone Indy Lights series as a “rookie” driver for Willy T. Ribbs Racing becoming the first African-American driver to take the green flag in a Firestone Indy Lights race. Racing since he was eight years old, Austin has competed in go-karts, micro- and full-sized sprint cars, modifieds and late-models, on both dirt and pavement, and in ARCA stock cars, NASCAR Camping World Trucks, and NASCAR Nationwide cars. For more information, please visit Chase Austin online at http://www.ChaseAustin.net.
About AJ Foyt Racing:
Located northwest of Houston, Texas, AJ Foyt Racing has been competing at the top levels of motorsports since 1965, over 45 years. With Foyt driving, his team won two Indianapolis 500s and three national IndyCar championships. Since his retirement from driving in 1993, the team has continued to win, claiming two more national titles and the 1999 Indy 500. The team currently fields the No. 14 Honda-powered Dallara, sponsored by ABC Supply Co. Inc. and driven by Mike Conway, in the IZOD IndyCar Series.
About Starting Grid
In 1994, New Albany, Indiana native Chris Miles founded Starting Grid in an effort to help diversify the motorsports industry by developing and implementing motorsports programs that have crossover appeal and yet capitalize on the ever-growing interest from minority demographics. Following stints racing professionally in open-wheel competition, and as a driving instructor for the Richard Petty Driving Experience, Miles turned his attention to television, where he combined his love of motorsports with entertainment. Among his many accomplishments were becoming the first African-American to host a national racing magazine show; “Inside CART” that aired on both FOX Sports Net and ESPN2, as well as taking honors as an award-winning producer for his “Black History Month” vignettes created in 2004 for SPEED TV. For more information, please visit Starting Grid, Inc. online at http://www.startinggrid.com.