Phil Long joined AJ Foyt Racing as a driver of the No. 4 ABC Supply transporter in January 2016. Along with his co-driver Rodney Klausmeyer, Long departed from Indianapolis for the 2250-mile trek to Portland which will take about 38 hours. We asked him a few questions…
Where were you born and raised?
PL: “Hialeah, Florida—a suburb of Miami.”
How did you get involved in racing? Where did it start for you?
PL: “I went to ‘help’ Champion Racing out of Pompano Beach, Fla. in 2000, and went to Sebring in March of 2001. Stayed with them until the end of 2008.”
What is your job and what does it entail?
PL: “Primarily I’m one of the two drivers of the No. 4 car transporter out of the Waller, Texas shop. Apart from that, I’m responsible for pit set-up and breakdown for the 4 car. I also rebuild all the pit guns a couple times a year and as needed. I was doing the air jack on the 4 car but lacerated my arm hours before having to drive to Toronto. I missed the race but mechanic Joe Pontin, [one of the 20-somethings on the team], stepped up and is doing a great job on the air jack. So now I am the super sub. Should someone go down for any reason, I can jump over the wall. I also have a vinyl plotter and have digitized nearly all of the graphics on the car and trucks and will help with car wraps.”
What do you do on race day?
PL: “I get the pits prepared so that no one wants for anything and be as certain as I can that everything functions smoothly. Pre-load trucks, help in pit stops (if needed), load up and go to the next one.”
What did you do before joining the Foyt team?
PL: “I have an art degree, and I have all my pre-requisites completed and was doing clinical rotations for an R.N. Was working hemodialysis at that time and got burned out on it. I did sports car with Champion Racing (Audi), ESM out of Stuart, Fla. (Ferrari and Honda prototypes). Also did some freelance stuff with Gunnar Racing/Restorations out of Riviera Beach, Fla. Then I got an offer with Foyt and moved our family to Magnolia, Texas.”
Greatest thrill of your career (to date)?
PL: “Being on the overall winning prototype at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2005. Changed the inside tires for that with crew chief Bobby Green. Brought the big trophy back to the United States for the first time in 38 years. Ironically our Audi R8 was no. 38 for all stateside races. The last time that trophy was in America? Gurney - Foyt...straaange.”
Tell us something that may surprise people about you.
PL: “I love new home construction, design and architecture. I’m especially interested in ‘high performance homes’ where things function at a far more efficient level, the net gain being better function at lower operating costs. Matt Risinger, a builder out of Austin, Texas has YouTube videos that are fascinating.”
What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?
PL: “Staying awake on the overnight drives. I’m more nocturnal by nature but it can still be pretty tough.”
How do you prepare for a race?
PL: “Relax. Don’t let anything wind you up.”
What’s your favorite track and why?
PL: “I think Road America. It’s very picturesque and it has a good vibe to it. All the campsites and the different vistas they afford is cool. Plus, it has run-off areas so if the unthinkable happens, with hope, it won’t be too critical. A.J. might differ with me on that.”
Do you have a motto/favorite saying?
PL: “Not really. I don’t say a lot for the most part, but try to make it count when I do.”
Who has been the greatest influence in your life?
PL: “Probably uncles. Not taking anything away from my father, but uncles have less
skin in the game. One uncle in particular was Pat Santello who was from Syracuse, N.Y. and was a car owner. He fielded several cars at Indy and took me to Pocono and Mosport races many moons ago. He probably planted the racing seed and it was just dormant for many years.”
Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of racing?
PL: “Guitar, bass guitar (I have a lot of guitars), drums, and waging jihad on my house [renovating and repairing].”
Why is your email philsartdorcom? Are you an artist?
PL: “Yes. Have a degree (for what that’s worth) in commercial design but gravitated to custom car and motorcycle painting, pin-striping and air brush.”
TONY KANAAN on Portland: “Coming from a great weekend in St. Louis, I’m looking
forward to going to Portland which is a race I’ve always enjoyed. I raced many years there. It’s a fun race track. We were almost in the top 10 there last year so it’s another race where I hope I can put the ABC Supply car in the top 10.”
MATHEUS LEIST on Portland: “I can’t wait to get back to Portland. Since my first lap
there last year I fell in love with the track. I feel like we had a pretty good car there last year, we ran in the top-12 most of the race but due to a yellow we ended up falling down a couple places. Anyway, I’m looking forward to working with my team, setting up a good car and getting the No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet a great finish on Sunday, that’s what it’s all about.”
Last Race: At World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, Kanaan started 20th and finished third to post his best result since joining AJ Foyt Racing last year. It was the best result for AJ Foyt Racing since Takuma Sato finished second at Detroit in 2015. Matheus Leist started 21st and finished in 17th as the five caution periods in the race did not fall his way.
Past Performance at Portland: In five races here, Tony Kanaan’s best start and finish came in 1998: he started fourth and placed eighth. Last year, Kanaan started 24th and finished 11th. Matheus Leist made his first start at Portland last year when he started 19th. He ran most of the race in the top 10, but the yellow brought out by Zach Veach’s spin ruined Leist’s race strategy. He finished 14th having gained four spots in the final 25 laps. In seven starts here, the Foyt team’s best start is 10th with Robby Gordon who also posted the team’s best finish of eighth, both in 1993. A.J. Foyt had the team’s second best finish of 10th in 1990.
ABC Supply is in its 15th season as primary sponsor of A.J. Foyt’s IndyCar team, making it the longest running team sponsor in the NTT IndyCar Series. The company was founded in 1982 by Ken and Diane Hendricks with just three stores. The company now has over 700 stores and topped $10.5 billion in sales in 2018. ABC Supply began sponsoring the AJ Foyt Racing team with the 2005 Indianapolis 500. The company has leveraged its involvement by entertaining well over 110,000 associates and customers over the past 14 racing seasons. This weekend the company will entertain over 150 guests.
ABC Supply national account Franklin Roofing Enterprises, Inc., located in Puyallup, Wash., will be featured on the engine cover of the No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet. Guests will receive the VIP treatment this weekend along with a Meet and Greet with Tony Kanaan.
L&W local account Plumbline Drywall, based in Tigard, Ore., won the ‘Your Name Here’ contest. The company name will be on the engine cover of the No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet. Guests will receive the VIP treatment plus a Meet and Greet with Matheus “Matt” Leist.
The Grand Prix of Portland will be televised live on NBC on Sunday, Sept. 1, starting at 3:00 p.m. ET. Qualifying will be broadcast Saturday on NBC Sports Network from 6:00 – 7:15 PM ET. All of the practices will be available on NBC’s subscription-based service, INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold.