Foyt on drivers from his time: “When you got one of them mad, usually when you got out of the car you had a nice little fist fight. You don’t see that no more.”
In 1972, Richard Petty was in the lead at Daytona International Speedway. Suddenly, he was struck with engine issues and he coasted to the garage area.
“I might have to paint that thing blue all over to get it to go again,” Richard Petty said after climbing from his car.
Foyt took the lead in the Wood Brothers Racing #21. Another car blew an engine ahead of Foyt. He went to the pit road, cleaned the oil off the window and returned to the track.
That was Foyt’s one and only win in the Daytona 500.
AJ Foyt on his health
“Well hell, it’s nice to be back, instead of the funeral home,” AJ Foyt stated from the Daytona International Speedway media center ahead of the Daytona 500.
“I’ve been pretty sick the last two or three years. I’ve been able to get healed up and come back here. Especially here at Daytona, it’s always been a love for me.”
“Like I said, I wasn’t suppose to live over 22. I turned 84. Hell, that’s getting pretty damn old.”
AJ Foyt compares modern racing drivers to drivers of old
Race car drivers didn’t used to live very long. Unbeknownst to the drivers of a previous era, they were well behind on safety.
Today’s racing drivers are mostly safe. That’s brought a much different personalty to the cockpit.
It used to take ‘crazy’ to get behind the wheel of a race car. No five point harness and in some cases, no seat belts at all. No full faced helmets. No containment seat. Yet, they were going close to the same speeds as they are today.
Actually, something was seriously wrong with all those guys.
Lee Spencer: How have you seen the evolution of the driver change? You guys seemed a lot more like cowboys and badasses than what we see today.
“Back when I was running, you had Junior Johnson and all the great guys. They were hard to deal with. I don’t think you see that in today’s time,” AJ Foyt said.
“When you got one of them mad, usually when you got out of the car you had a nice little fist fight. You don’t see that no more.”
“The only thing I can say about racing and NASCAR and Indycar drivers. A lot of people put a lot of money behind the young drivers.”
“They can have a real bad wreck and they walk away. They’ve made such safety progress in NASCAR and Indycars that you can’t believe it.”
“I’d say that’s the biggest thing that’s happened in racing is the safety point. The cars are probably a 1000% safer today than they were when Junior Johnson, Fireball Roberts and all them.”
“You’re going to have a certain amount of people that’s going to get killed in racing, regardless of what it is. But, you don’t see it like you used to. And that’s a good thing.”
AJ Foyt slaps Arie Luyendyk in 1997