A.J. Foyt Jr. is unique in the world of motorsports with a career of excellence unmatched in its versatility and longevity. Foyt’s professional career spanned four decades, from the 1950s to the 1990s, a feat in that he not only survived racing’s most dangerous era but also thrived in it. Super Tex, as he is known to his legions of fans, was named by the Associated Press as the Driver of the Century.
In this age of slick, specialized auto racers with multimillion-dollar sponsorship deals, Foyt is a throwback to the old days of grit-tough racing. An expert auto mechanic, Foyt knew how far to push a car to its limits, and on some occasions finished the race right before the car was about to break down or blow a tire. During one race, a radius rod—a piece of Foyt’s suspension—snapped and started to fall off. Instead of taking himself out of the race as most drivers would do, Foyt grabbed the piece of metal and held it in place with one hand, while using his other hand to finish, and win, the race.
While driving, Foyt’s technique was nearly flawless. Fellow racers noted on several occasions that Foyt was as cool as ice while he drove. Foyt almost never made mistakes, and would never let his emotions affect his driving as some other racers did and still do. Out of the car, however, it was a different story. While Foyt’s racing prowess was legendary, so was his hot temper. When he was angry, he berated his pit crew, officials, reporters, or whoever else got in his way. Sometimes, he would beat on his race car with a hammer if it didn’t run the way he wanted it to, regardless of who was watching.