A lot of people, including me, firmly believe that Anthony Joseph Foyt Jr. is the greatest racing driver who ever lived. He came out of hardscrabble Midget and Sprint car racing to become IndyCar’s all-time race winner, the first driver to capture the Indianapolis 500 four times, a co-winner at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and a Daytona 500 champion. Along the way, he prevailed in stirring battles and endured harrowing crashes, which on various occasions left him with a badly broken back and legs pulverized into jelly. In his 80s, he’s still running an IndyCar team and when that series stops the weekend of August 15th-17th at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania, you’ll have an opportunity to examine another A.J. Foyt distinction: The first Indianapolis race car he ever built himself.
Foyt called the self-built car the Coyote, and admittedly, it’s a close knockoff of the Lotus 38 that spearheaded the rear-engine revolution during the 1960s in American championship racing. Restored by acclaimed IndyCar expert Walter Goodwin and owned by collector John Darlington, this is the first car built by A.J. Foyt Enterprises in Houston. It’s been restored to its original shape, powered by a four-cam Ford V-8 racing engine. After Foyt was done with the car, he sold it, and it was cut down into the first rear-engine Sprint car with an injected small-block Chevrolet for power. Tom Sneva, who went on to win the 1983 Indianapolis 500, raced it on bullrings successfully in the 1970s until the U.S. Auto Club banned his bullet, ruling that a Sprint car should be an upright, front-engine machine. A variety of championship, Sprint and stock cars will be displayed during the Vintage Indy Car Celebration at Pocono. To learn more about the weekend, click here.