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A.J. Foyt's Thoughts on Parnelli Jones

HOUSTON (June 5, 2024) -- A.J. Foyt shared his thoughts on his good friend Parnelli Jones, the 1963 Indianapolis 500 champion who passed away yesterday at the age of 90.

"Parnelli and I were great, great friends and we had a lot of racing together. He was a helluva sprint car driver, midget driver and also IndyCar driver. We'd just become friends because we’d traveled a lot together running sprint car races on the East Coast, the West Coast and in the Midwest. We ran midgets at Ascot for J.C. Agajanian many times. Man we just go way back and had a lot of racing history against each other. He was a great race driver.


"Ascot [Park] was one of the biggest races [attendance-wise] of the year when me and him would be out there racing each other. It's a wonder one of us didn't kill the other because we raced so hard trying to beat each other out there. And he was from California and I was from Texas, and I liked beating drivers in their backyard but he was tough. We raced sprint cars in the Midwest, a lot on the East Coast, and he won the championship in the Midwest and I won it on the East Coast the same year and finished second to him in the Midwest.

Two great champions going wheel to wheel in their respective No. 1 sprint cars on the high banks of Salem (Ind.) Speedway. Foyt (on the inside) won USAC's East Coast title while Jones captured the Midwest championship in 1960.


“It was off and on that we raced stock cars, he raced at Daytona and I raced against him there. We had a lot of races together but I can't name them all. He won some, I won some, it was just a toss up. He was a clean race driver but a hard race driver. You had to work to beat him.


“One story I remember was when I went to the 24-hour race over in LeMans, I came back and picked up the paper and, and read Parnelli Jones wins in A.J.'s sprint car in Salem, Indiana. And I'm like, 'What the hell?' I had my car in Herb Porter's shop and Parnelli said, 'Well, we had nothing to do that weekend and your car was sitting in the garage, so we decided to go racing with it. No wonder you run so fast, I didn't even have to hardly drive it to win over there.' They didn't give me any money either. They just borrowed my race car.

“I know the time comes for all of us and we never know when it’s gonna happen. It’s hard but I’m glad we had so many good times together and a lot of great memories. He was one of the best I ever drove against.”

A.J. catches up with his old friend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May 2021. It was the last time they were together.




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