A.J. Foyt wasn't around much while his grandson Larry was
growing up on his Texas ranch.
The first four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 and one of
the greatest drivers in history was busy racing and running his own
After his parents divorced when he was 2, Larry was adopted and
raised by his grandparents, whom he refers to as mom and dad.
"He was gone quite a bit and I spent most of my time with Lucy,
my mom," said Larry, 23.
Now, after earning a degree in communications at Texas Christian
University, Larry has gone into the family business, taking up
racing and showing enough promise in a year in the American Speed
Association to make it into NASCAR's Busch Series this year as part
of A.J. Foyt Racing.
"I knew when I was just a little kid that racing was what I
wanted to do," Larry said.
A.J. Foyt had pledged that if Larry got a college education,
he'd help his racing career. "He lives up to his promises," Larry
It took some convincing, though.
"The biggest thing I always preached to all my kids is
education," Foyt said. "But I tried never to talk against racing
because it's done so much for me. When it was the right time, I
threw him out on his own in ASA. He pretty much handled his team
himself, and he did a great job.
"He's got a good head on his shoulders. and he doesn't do
anything stupid. If you watch him this year, I think you'll see how
smooth he is on the racetrack."
Larry began his career in go-karts and moved to Formula 2000,
dreaming of following the lead of A.J. to open-wheel stardom. So
how is it that Larry now finds himself racing stock cars and
working his way toward Winston Cup?
"You know, I've been to Indy every year of my life, and that's
what made me want to be a racer," he said. "It's still my dream
to race at Indianapolis."
A.J. had wanted him to try stock cars. Although his heart wasn't
in it at first, Larry soon came around.
"Once I made up my mind it was the right way to go, I did all
right," he said.
His oldest brother, Tony, is a horse trainer of some note, while
middle brother Jerry tried his hand at racing and didn't make much
of a splash.
"Jerry had dreams and never was able to make them come true,"
said Larry, who hopes for a different ending.
A.J., who has had some success as the owner of a team in the
Indy Racing League - winning a championship and an Indy 500 --
started his own Winston Cup team last year and is adding the Busch
team to the mix in 2001.
"We had problems last year right from the start," he said of
his Winston Cup car, to be driven this year by rookie Ron Hornaday.
"We got a late start and we weren't making races early in the
"Then we made a lot of personnel changes through the year. Now
we've got good people, we've got a good driver and we've got good
Larry is impressed by the improvement he has seen in the Foyt
"I want to be here and learn the business from the ground up,"
Larry has also found the Foyt name can have drawbacks.
"Of course, there are some expectations that come with the
name," Larry said. "When I was in F2000, it was a part-time deal
because I was going to school and wasn't putting the time into it
that it needed. That made me look bad because, even in F2000, there
But he can deal with that as long as he's getting the chance to
show what he can do.
His teacher not only won open-wheel and sports car races but
also seven Winston Cup events -- including the 1972 Daytona 500.
"Sometimes, in the car, I'm more worried about what he's
thinking, which is probably not good," Larry said. "But you've
got to understand that he's very demanding. He even chewed me out
in Victory Lane one time after I won a go-kart race because he
didn't like the way I drove that day.
"But, I know one thing for sure: he cares."
| A.J. Foyt, right, is holding up his end of the bargain with his grandson Larry Foyt.||