INDIANAPOLIS – Racing legend A.J. Foyt has long cited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as his favorite track in the world. Now he has one more reason to count it as his favorite.
Foyt’s success in the Indianapolis 500 is immortalized in his four visages on the silver Borg-Warner winner’s trophy but now he will become part of the track which has been a part of him for over 60 years.
Yesterday a bronze brick engraved with his name and the years he won – 61, 64, 67, 77 – was placed in the yard of bricks on the front straightaway of the track dubbed the Brickyard.
Bud Tucker places brick in track as A.J. Foyt watches. The brick will be cemented in permanently.
Orchestrated by IMS President Doug Boles, the presentation took place at the base of the Pagoda due to rainy weather, but the rain didn’t dampen the spirit of the occasion. Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Company, which owns IMS and INDYCAR, was also on hand for the ceremony.
Addressing Foyt, Boles said, “We thought it was really important that since you were our first four-time winner, we would start with you.” Later in the year, the other two four-time winners, Al Unser Sr. and Rick Mears, will be honored with commemorative bricks of their four wins.
Foyt's hand rests on his personal bronze brick. He wears his unique Indy 500 winner's ring encrusted in diamonds and featuring the four diamonds representing his four victories. The triumphant years are engraved on one side of the ring and '500' is on the other side.
Foyt was visibly touched and appreciative of the honor to be the first driver to have a bronze brick placed in the track’s surface. Foyt was also given a commemorative brick mounted on granite to take back to Houston.
“I’ve been retired for quite a long time and for the Speedway to have a bronze brick made with my name because I’m the first 4-time winner and put me in the middle of the race track, well that means a lot and not just because I like being first. I really appreciate what the Speedway did for me—it is a great honor,” Foyt said afterwards.
“I’m gonna get run over a lot but that goes with the brick,” he quipped.
Ideated by Boles and created by metal works artisan Bud Tucker, who is the weld shop foreman at IMS, the commemorative brick weighs 18 lbs. and took seven months from concept to completion. The physical process from mold to cast took 40 hours to complete.
"I'm glad to have been a part of it," said Tucker, who has worked at IMS since 2004. "His legacy will go on. As an artist, that's what I wanted to make sure of."
Boles talked about the history of the commemorative bricks which dates back to 1909 when the final brick was placed at the start-finish line by Carl Fisher and Indiana Gov. Thomas Marshall at the completion of 3.2 million Brickyard track.
Foyt, 84, is the only driver still living who won on the brick front straightaway which he did in 1961. That race was the Golden Anniversary of the first race in 1911. Track owner Tony Hulman, along with 1911 winner Ray Harroun, placed a gold brick at the start-finish line to celebrate that occasion. That brick is now in the IMS Museum.
Fifty years later, A.J. joined IMS Chairman Mari Hulman George in the ceremonial placement of the brick to celebrate the race’s centennial anniversary in 2011.
Foyt will return to the Speedway on May 9th in preparation for the INDYCAR Grand Prix on May 11th, the day INDYCAR will make its broadcast debut on NBC starting at 3 p.m. ET. The Indianapolis 500 will be broadcast on NBC on May 26th starting at 11 a.m. ET.