AJ FOYT ENTERPRISES
LARRY J. FOYT
Birthplace: Houston, Texas
Birthdate: February 22, 1977
Residence: Hockley, Texas
Education: Texas Christian University – B.S. Communications
Confidence and determination. Two qualities that made the legendary A.J. Foyt the champion that he is. Two qualities that he’s passed on to his son, Larry Foyt, president of A.J. Foyt Enterprises. Perhaps now more than ever, the younger Foyt believes that 2018 will be the season that the ABC Supply team will be in the forefront of the competition.
After tackling a multitude of challenging changes in the 2017 season, and making significant progress towards the end, Foyt knew that the team was headed in the right direction with a little fine tuning still to be made. Fast forward to January 2018 and the changes he has implemented thus far have him excited for the upcoming season.
“Going into this year we’ve strengthened our weaknesses to where we are in that situation where the two-car program is really going to pay dividends,” said Foyt. “We’re finally at that point where I feel really confident that our car consistency for both cars is going to be way better and the team is stronger as a whole.”
Foyt sought out Indianapolis 500 champion and IndyCar veteran Tony Kanaan along with promising rookie Matheus ‘Matt’ Leist to team up to drive the ABC Supply Chevrolets.
Joining Kanaan is Eric Cowdin, the team’s Technical Director who will also serve as the race engineer of the No. 14 machine. While both men are new to the ABC Supply team, they have a long history of shared success having worked together for 16 seasons, many of which were during Kanaan’s most notable achievements. The strength of their relationship is not lost on Foyt.
“I think Tony has a lot of good races left. He’s in super shape, he’s obviously a great driver and it’s been a long time, that we’ve had a proven championship winner and an Indy 500 winner full time on our team.
“One of the strongest acquisitions we’ve made as we try to improve the team is with Eric Cowdin coming over with Tony because one of the strongest and most important relationships in racing is the driver and engineer. With those guys having worked together and really having great results together, their history accelerates that learning curve for us as a team so much, so that’s a huge plus for us.”
The pairing of Kanaan with fellow Brazilian Leist was another key element to improving the team for the 2018 season. Making his American debut in 2017 in the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires Series, the talented young driver impressed Foyt.
“I knew the team Matt drove for when he won his British F3 championship; the owner had called me and said to keep an eye on this kid, he’s gonna come over to America and he’s something special – one of the best he’d seen come through in a while,” Foyt recalled. “So we saw that when Matt won Indianapolis (Freedom 100) last year. I met him and started talking. After hiring Tony, it just came together. Matt was obviously talented and we thought Tony could really mentor him. So it was a good fit to have some youth partnered up with the experience of Tony and now we have someone that we’re banking on for the future.
“He’s obviously got ability and he’s got the right attitude and I think he knows he’s got a lot to learn, but he’s got a lot of talent so when you throw that together it could be a good fit.”
Additional changes include the swapping of livery numbers, though not the personnel, with the No. 14 residing in the Indianapolis shop in the suburb of Speedway (Kanaan and Cowdin are based there) and the No. 4 to Houston, as well as some new crew members, an aggressive off-season development program, and of course, the new universal aero kit adopted by both engine manufacturers.
One of the big adjustments that Foyt’s team endured last season was switching engine manufacturers to Chevrolet. Combined with the other changes in 2017, the switch made for a steep learning curve with little time to adjust to a completely different engine and aero kit. This year, though, with time to hone the team’s skills with the engine and a leveling of the playing field with the universal aero kits, Foyt feels they are ready to go.
“We just had so much newness last year and we started so far behind. It made it difficult. Changing manufacturers was something – you know, now I’m happy we did, we’re really working well and enjoying being with Chevrolet – but for us last season going up against everyone already being familiar with their aero kits and whatnot, it was much more difficult than I expected.
“This year we’ve been able to do a ton of prep in the off-season and it’s a lot of good stuff as a team that’s going on right now. We’re headed down a great path with a really strong direction and I’m really excited to get racing because I think it’s going show on track.”
Despite the many challenges that 2017 presented, the team soldiered through them and at Gateway, Conor Daly finished fifth for the team’s overall best finish. There were a few top-10s as well, six belonging to Carlos Muñoz and four to Daly.
Past history shows the team enjoyed success, and not so far in the rear-view mirror.
During Foyt’s tenure, which began in earnest in 2007, the team returned to Victory Circle at the Long Beach Grand Prix--the IndyCar Series’ most historic and prestigious street course event—in 2013. Winning driver Takuma Sato also claimed three pole positions (fastest qualifier) in his four-year stint with the Foyt team.
Stepping outside of the motorsports box, Foyt co-founded Foyt Family Wines with A.J. Foyt IV in 2008. He continues to build the award-winning boutique wine company that sources its product from Napa Valley and Sonoma County in California. In 2017, the company produced over 1,500 cases of its premium wines.
Foyt’s growth of A.J. Foyt Enterprises included purchasing and overseeing the renovation of a multi-purpose facility in Speedway, Indiana in 2014. The following year, Foyt and Foyt IV opened the Foyt Wine Vault, a Foyt Family Wines tasting room and retail center which has become very popular within the local Speedway community as well as tourists visiting Indianapolis. With the relocation of the No. 4 team to the other end of the property, Foyt will be able to check on both interests which are within walking distance.
Foyt serves on the board for Pink and Blue for Two, the cancer awareness charity whose spokeswoman is Olivia Newton-John. Additionally, he regularly donates items from the race team (and his past racing career) to a variety of charities throughout the year. His team worked closely with INDYCAR to spearhead the #Race4Houston campaign which raised over $28,000 for the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund to help victims of the worst hurricane ever to strike the greater Houston area.
The Houstonian began his professional career as a race car driver. He competed in three Indianapolis 500s (2004 – 2006). Prior to his IndyCar experience, Foyt spent four years competing in NASCAR: he raced in the Winston (now Monster Energy) Cup Series in 2003-2004 and in the Busch Grand National (now Xfinity) Series in 2001-2002. Foyt was a brand ambassador for Harrah’s Casinos and a national spokesman for the ‘Meals on Wheels’ program for four years (2000-2003).
After starting in karts and progressing to Formula 2000, Foyt jumped to stock cars in 2000 and spent a season in the American Speed Association (ASA).
Foyt earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Texas Christian University in 2000. He lives with his wife Kelly in Houston Oaks in Hockley, Texas.