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Indy 500 legend A.J. Foyt talks Houston roots, path to racing royalty

With four Indianapolis 500 wins securing his place in racing royalty, A.J. Foyt started as a young boy watching his dad build cars in Houston.

“He built me a little race car, and I was like, three or four years old. I started from there,” he said.

As a teenager, A.J.‘s favorite spot to race dirt is familiar to Houstonians.

“That’s where I started was Playland Park, that’s where the Astrodome and all that is now,” he said.

As technology took over and drivers had cars made in factories, Foyt, nicknamed Super Tex, stayed self-made throughout every Indy 500 win.

“The first one, naturally, was wonderful,” he said. “But, to be the first four-time winner.....we built my car right there in Houston, Texas. We built the motor in Houston, Texas.”

His son Larry Foyt had success as a driver but now manages the team, continuing the family legacy.

“Coming to Indianapolis and watching him race in the Indy 500, I remember being a little boy and I would always want to walk into the track with him because all the people would start screaming for him,” Larry said. “Screaming, ‘Give ‘em hell A.J.,’ and as a kid, it was the coolest thing ever.”

As tough as they come

A.J., in some ways, seems indestructible. He has survived multiple car crashes, a heart bypass, and a few bee attacks on his Texas ranch. Yet, he seems to come back better than ever each time.

He said the press pushed him to keep getting back up.

“Because every time I got hurt bad or something, they said I couldn’t come back,” A.J. said.

That was enough motivation.

“I’ve always been the type of person that, if somebody says I can’t do something, someway I’m going to prove a point, that had to drive me more than anything,” A.J. said.

Super Tex is accomplished in every facet of racing, even conquering the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Daytona 500.

“Actually, (it’s) doing what I did and having a lot of fun,” A.J. said smiling. “I mean, a lot of people in life, I’ve heard them cuss their job and all that ‘I wouldn’t do that again,’ I can’t say that.”

Houston is home

A.J. was born at St. Joseph’s hospital and raised in Houston. And, in the end, he expects to return.

“And that’s where I have my plot to be buried on,” he said.

A.J. said wouldn’t change a thing about his colorful, crazy life.

“I’d still do it all over again, I mean, racing has been my whole life, I love it,” said Foyt. “Houston has been my hometown my whole life and I love it. Hell, if I died talking to you today, I couldn’t have had a better life. Everything’s been wonderful.”