Anthony Joseph Foyt Jr. set many defining records at Indianapolis Motor Speedway The historic, 2.5-mile oval owes much of its modern-day fame to the Texan’s exploits during the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, as Foyt is the first racer to earn four victories in this difficult and challenging race. It’s hard to believe that this year’s 105th Greatest Spectacle in Racing marks the 60th anniversary of A.J. Foyt Jr.’s first visit to this famous Victory Lane a wee bit north of the iconic Yard of Bricks.
To celebrate this momentous occasion, A.J. Foyt Racing is teaming with long-time sponsor ABC Supply Co., Inc. to secure a fourth, commemorative entry to the Indy 500. In addition to full-season drivers Sebastien Bourdais and Dalton Kellett, the team has a third entry for Charlie Kimball and now has announced veteran J.R. Hildebrand will ignite a fourth Foyt entry, the Chevrolet-powered No. 1 ABC Supply Dallara.
“ABC Supply is excited for the opportunity to support A.J. Foyt Racing by sponsoring the No. 1 car for the Indy 500,” said Mike Jost, ABC Supply COO. “A.J. is a living legend and part of the ABC family. Our 15,000 associates are honored to help celebrate the 60th anniversary of his first of four Indy 500 wins as a driver.”
Foyt earned his first Indianapolis 500 victory on May 30, 1961; significantly, the 105th running of this great race is being held May 30, 2021. As a tribute to Foyt’s first victory, the No. 1 car will sport a throwback livery of the No 1 Bowes Seal Fast Offenhauser roadster that Foyt drove in 1961. The car has a candy apple red nose that will be trimmed with black stripes over a primarily white body.
To burnish the historic look, a large red, No. 1 will sit on the rear of the engine cover, in addition to the normal positions on the nose and rear wing, as dictated by INDYCAR, sanction of the NTT IndyCar Series. While the No. 1 plate belongs to the champion of the previous season, in this case PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing and Scott Dixon, now a six-time INDYCAR titleholder, team owner Chip Ganassi has graciously released the number to Foyt’s team to use in this year’s Indy 500.
Larry Foyt, team president of A.J. Foyt Racing, explained the significance of this livery for Hildebrand’s entry: “This livery is more than just a throwback for us,” he said. “It is special to our team and family, and its imagery is something I have grown up seeing my whole life.
“It is wonderful that our longtime friends and partner ABC Supply will be the primary sponsor on this tribute to one of my Dad’s great accomplishments,” the younger Foyt continued. “Being able to sign a quality driver like J.R. will add another source of valuable feedback to our team, which is especially important given the talent-packed Indy 500 entry list this year.”
Californian Hildebrand has qualified for the past 10 Indy 500s, an important fact that led both A.J. and Larry Foyt to hire him for this race, despite the fact that Hildebrand has run only three full seasons in INDYCAR. “This is definitely a drive to be excited about, and for multiple reasons,” said Hildebrand. “Getting the chance to drive for A.J. and Larry is something I’m looking forward to, no matter what, but with ABC honoring the 60th anniversary of A.J.’s first 500 win, that makes it extra special.
“I’ll be back in a Chevy – which I’ve spent almost my entire Indy car career driving – gain the benefit of three teammates and get the chance to reunite, in a way, with an engineer I’ve had success with before in Justin Taylor, who is race-enginering Seb (Bourdais) this year. We all know that the 500 is only getting more competitive,” the 33-year-old said, “so we’ll all have to bring our best to the table. That, to me, is what makes this race so worthwhile in the first place. I can’t wait to get rolling.”
In his rookie season, Hildebrand, then 23, scored his best Indy 500 result, finishing second to Dan Wheldon after leading the final two laps. He crashed in the final turn after attempting to pass a lapped car. Tapping the outside Turn 4 wall, he limped to the Yard of Bricks to take second place. In his 10 starts, Hildebrand has qualified in the top 10 four times and posted four top-10 results.
In a nod to Foyt, Hildebrand’s 2021 fire suit will be solid white, the same color Foyt used in his first Indy 500 victory. Unlike his mentor’s uniform, Hildebrand’s fire suit will be adorned with many more marketing partners, who made this fourth entry feasible. Crew members on the No. 1 Chevy will wear uniforms modeled after the 1961 crew, led by chief mechanic George Bignotti, who earned the first of his seven Indy 500 with Foyt that year. With collars trimmed in black and featuring a black pocket, the crew shirts and firesuits will echo the Bignotti crew’s team wear. The only change? The crew will wear black pants rather than white.
A.J. Foyt, now 86, is demonstrably enticed by this entry. “At my age,” he said, “I don’t get too excited anymore but I’m thrilled to see this car painted like my ’61 car. That win was so special because it was my dream just to be good enough to make the race. To win it three years later, well, I was thrilled to death about it. They were all sweet victories, but to win that first one after where I came from, it was unbelievable.
“Having ABC Supply sponsor this year is fantastic,” Foyt continued. “They were awful good to us as our main sponsor for 15 years, and they came back for the 500 last year when things were pretty tough. That just shows what type of company they are. We’ve been great friends and we’ll remain that way.”
Practice for the 105th Indy 500 begins on Tuesday, May 18, with qualifying set for May 22-23. The Indianapolis 500 is broadcast live May 30th on NBC, starting at 11am EDT.