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iRace Report: Firestone 175 at Twin Ring Motegi

The Firestone 175 and fourth round of the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge Series took place on the virtual 1.52-mile oval of Japan’s Twin Ring Motegi Saturday afternoon under virtually sunny skies and before a packed grandstand (the grandstands are always packed at INDYCAR iRaces).

Hopes were high as Tony Kanaan posted his best start of the series by qualifying sixth in the 7-Eleven No. 14 Chevrolet. Unfortunately those hopes were dashed in the first lap as Kanaan had a spectacular flip on the back straight (in iRacing all of the accidents are spectacular) triggered by a netcode!

Kanaan’s car loses control and hits the wall which launched him into the air and he vaulted over the field of cars necessitating a trip to the pits for a Fast Repair. 

Kanaan was dicing with Scott McLaughlin for position and the system “calculated” that they touched (video shows they didn’t). The technical explanation included the fact that McLaughlin was racing from Australia and the lag in the internet connection probably caused the system error. Kanaan’s wing “broke” sending him into the wall and into the air. There wasn’t a yellow and Kanaan was towed to the pits for a Fast Repair (or total re-set).

His teammate Sebastien Bourdais, who started in the back after his qualifying run was cancelled, had plans to hang back ion his No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet and let things get sorted out but a multi-car wreck on lap five collected him as he tried to skirt through the wreckage. He too had to be towed to the pits for a Fast Repair. 

Dalton Kellett, who also had a problem in qualifying and started in the back half of the field, was able to get through the lap five accident but may have sustained some minor damage to his No. 41 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet.

Pit stops for Bourdais and Kellett went off without incident but Kanaan had another strange thing happen during his pitstop which could not be explained by the iRacing technical staff. As the pit stops began, Kanaan cycled towards the front and was in eighth when he ducked into the pits on lap 56 for tires and fuel. However, the tires never registered as being replaced and when he went back on track, he was three laps down. He held on for as long as he could but finally brought the car to the garage on race lap 90. His exasperation was palpable.

“Very frustrating race,” Kanaan texted afterwards. “First there was a computer problem that took us out of the race in the beginning. Then another problem in the pits where they apologized, and told me they would give me an answer next week. I’m really disappointed with the way they are running things as I’m taking this way too seriously for that.”

Without another yellow, the odds for top-10 finishes for Kellett and Bourdais were not in their favor on the super fast superspeedway. They never got within sight of the lead pack. They placed 19th and 20th respectively.

Dalton Kellett wheels his K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet.

For the fourth straight week, Kellett and his No. 41 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet emerged the top finisher in the Foyt Racing stable.  

“A lot of excitement at the start of the race!” exclaimed Kellett. “Luckily, I got through the big wreck on the back straight cleanly, but I may have gotten a bit of damage before the first pit stop. Had a good race there at the end. We (he and Bourdais) were trying to work together and trade spots back and forth to see if would catch that pack of guys ahead of us. There was just too big of a gap and I had slightly newer tires on the pit cycle so the last bit we were just running by ourselves. That race really came down to qualifying and I made a mistake on my qualifying lap and ended up fifth from the end (28th), and luckily we were able to move up from there. It’s tough when you start that far back. Looking forward to the next one, I think we’re going to COTA which I think will be a lot of fun. It’s a cool track.”

Bourdais was disappointed also as the race did not turn out as he had hoped after some strong practice runs this week.

Sebastien Bourdais leads Tony Kanaan at TRM.

“Another disappointing event for the AJ Foyt Racing Tresiba/Chevrolet #4,” Bourdais texted. “This time I mostly have myself to blame though. I really thought I had a good chance to qualify well but I unfortunately touched the wall coming out of turn 4, which in iRacing cancels the lap. We therefore started the race from the back and hung back about 2s to let things settle down, but I still got caught up in the first big wreck, which consumed our only fast repair. Knowing we didn’t have any more freebies (Fast Repairs or resets) I was double careful and didn’t catch the right train. This, combined to the fact there wasn’t a subsequent yellow, didn’t allow us to finish better than 20th.”

Simon Pagenaud claimed his second straight victory in a tight duel at the end with Scott Dixon. Will Power finished third followed by Marcus Ericsson and Robert Wickens.

The next iRace will be at the virtual Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas next Saturday afternoon on April 25. It is the fifth of the six-race series with the final track still to be determined.

Notes & Quotes: Firestone 175 at Twin Ring Motegi

April 17, 2020

SOURCE: FOYT RACING

 This week’s iRace track was a random draw and returns the NTT INDYCAR SERIES to Twin Ring Motegi which is located about two hours north of Tokyo.

The Firestone 175km will compete on the virtual 1.52-mile oval track in a 113-lap race or 75-minute timed race. It will be broadcast on NBCSN Saturday afternoon starting at 2:30 p.m. ET.

The Indy cars ran on the oval from 2003 through 2010. In 2011, the earthquakes in Japan necessitated moving the race from its normal April date during the cherry blossom season to September when it became the final race of the season. Damage to the oval required that the teams race on the 2.98-mile road course which became the final race for the Indy cars at the Twin Ring Motegi.

Kanaan won the Indy car race on the oval track in 2007 after posting podium finishes in 2004 (2nd) and 2006 (3rd). In nine starts, he has six top-10 finishes including four top-5s. He started in the top-3 four times.

This weekend he will be driving the 7-Eleven Chevrolet marking a return to the sponsor with whom he won the 2004 NTT INDYCAR SERIES title and the 2007 race in Japan. 7-Eleven continues to be involved with Kanaan as a personal sponsor. In the iRacing INDYCAR Challenge Series, Kanaan made it to the finish in Michigan (18th) last week after system errors knocked him out of contention the first two weeks.

TONY KANAAN: “I have a lot of good memories about Twin Ring Motegi. It was a track where I had a lot of success. It was a fun track to drive, it was a fast, fast oval. Driving the sim this week and remembering the times in Japan brought back a lot of good memories. I had a lot of fans and friends there. I think it is my second biggest fanbase. This weekend I’m debuting the 7-Eleven car which is a throwback livery and I’m excited! Hopefully we’ll have a good weekend – I’m looking forward to it.”

Sebastien Bourdais made his only start at Twin Ring Motegi in 2011 after spending the 2009-2010 seasons competing in Formula One. In Japan, Bourdais started 14th and finished sixth driving for Dale Coyne Racing. In the iRacing INDYCAR Challenge Series, his best finish (only finish) to date is 13th

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: “I have never raced the oval at Twin Ring Motegi, but the little practice I did so far has been quite fun. The tire degradation is high with the low downforce setup, so the end of stint gets rather interesting. Finally, I hope the No. 4 Tresiba/Chevrolet will have better success than it has experienced in the prior events.”

Dalton Kellett has never competed in Japan and is looking forward to his first race there, albeit a virtual one. In iRacing competition, Kellett has two 11th place finishes at Watkins Glen International and Barber Motorsports Park; he placed 16th at Michigan Int’l Speedway last week.

DALTON KELLETT: “I am excited that Twin Ring Motegi was chosen for the Random Draw iRace. It is a track I have never been to. Ovals on iRacing have proven to be great for exciting races, so I’m sure this weekend will be no exception.  And I expect that we will make it to the green flag this time. Once again, tire management will be critical. I don’t believe we will be able to run multiple lanes for as long as we could at Michigan. Drivers will have to choose between being aggressive early-on in the stint, to gain track position, or saving their tires to have something at the end. Looking forward to being back in the No. 41 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet!

To follow the Foyt team cars of Tony Kanaan (No. 14 7-Eleven Chevrolet), Sebastien Bourdais (No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet) and Dalton Kellett (No. 41 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet), visit the AJ Foyt Racing Facebook page where their points of view will be live-streamed.

Q&A with Jack Starne

Source: AJ FOYT RACING

April 13, 2020

JACK STARNE has worked with A.J. Foyt since June, 1967. Now the General Manager of A.J. Foyt Racing, Jack started as a mechanic, became the crew chief in 1976, and eventually came off the road in 1989. Jack has been there when A.J. was on top and when A.J. suffered some of his hardest times. As close to A.J. as a brother, Jack Starne has seen it all. We asked him a few questions…

Q: How did you find your way from a Southern California hot rodder to A.J.’s race shop?

JS: “At the time I worked for Bruce Crower Cams & Equipment. He was taking care of two Indy cars for Jim Rathmann, Gordon Cooper & Gus Grissom. In ‘67 we went to Indianapolis with two drivers, Rick Muther and Bobby Johns. We didn’t make the race, but we had a lot of entertainment with the astronauts—they were pretty funny guys. I was ready to go back to California because I had a job there. But all of A.J.’s guys, after he won the race in ’67, they all quit. He said they made too much money. Bill Yeager worked for Rathmann at the time. I think Yeager told A.J. how fast I worked. A.J. came around the garage corner and introduced himself to me and asked me if I wanted to help him out when they ran the races in Canada.  I thought, well I’ve never been to Canada before so this is probably my only chance, so I’ll go for it. From there I just went to work for him. Came from Indy and moved straight to Texas, never went back to California.

Jack Starne (rear) tightens fuel cap on A.J.’s 1968 dirt car.

Q: How did AJ change from the time his dad worked with him in the race shop to the time after his dad stopped working, due to health issues, and after Tony passed away?

JS: “A.J. and his dad were very close. A.J. worshipped the ground that his daddy walked on—we all did. They argued an awful lot but both of them always wanted to win races. That was the only reason he was in there – Tony was behind A.J. 100 percent on everything he did. No matter what it took, Tony was on it. When Tony started slowing down and getting sick, A.J. started to slow down a little too. He wouldn’t go to some races. He was very, very concerned about his dad. And then when Tony really got sick, he had to do radiation treatments and A.J. and I would share taking him back and forth. It just kept eating on A.J. and he lost interest in racing altogether. When his dad passed away it was really so sad for all of us. As time went on, A.J. started coming around a little bit. It might have taken him two or three years to get back into the groove a little bit. He still misses his daddy to this day. It was very hard on him and very hard on him when his momma passed away too. It hit A.J. very, very hard. She was sick for quite a while before she passed. He still talks about them all the time too. Both of them were tremendous people. Back then we were more like family.”

A.J. and Jack in 1985 when A.J. was getting back into racing.

Q: What did you learn from working with Bob Riley on the Coyote chassis design that was pretty dominant in the mid 70’s?

JS: “The biggest thing was to have everything nice and neat, have all the body parts fit nice and neat. Try to make everything aerowise as nice and tight as possible, be sure that everything is tidied up. A good example of that is when a mechanic named Bob Dickson came to work for us, we were running dirt cars back then. We ran an Offy in the dirt car and Tony [Foyt] always ran two ground wires off of the coil. Bob said you don’t need two wires on it. We only did one and needless to say, that one broke and we didn’t win the race so that was a bad day for us.

“I learned an awful lot from Bob Riley—a lot about suspension, a lot about aero, a lot about ground effects cars which I think all of us learned together –A.J., myself and Bob. The first ground effects car we built had more ground effects than we knew what to do with—we worked to try to relieve it. We kept trying to relieve it because it kept sucking the whole car right down to the ground. We didn’t snap to what was going on. Back in the old days the cars used to run pretty soft springs. When the ground effects cars came, you didn’t get all the movement like you did with the other cars, with these cars you needed to run it a lot stiffer and a lot lower to the ground. It took us a little while to figure that out but once we did, we were alright. As time goes on, you learn.”

Q: What were the best and worst aspects of working for A.J. for almost 55 years? 

JS: “The best part? The whole 53 years! We always had fun, we worked seriously and if we got in trouble, we worked our way out of it. We never gave up. I can’t pinpoint just one thing. And I don’t think there was any worst part. I know we would always have some disagreements along the way. He’d cuss me and I’d cuss him and it’d be over with in 30 minutes and we’d get back to work and start winning races again. It was all good all the way around believe me.”

In 2017, Jack was honored for his 50 years working with A.J. with a party in Indianapolis during the month of May. Here are a few of the people who came to pay tribute to the man and his career. Jack is seated between his wife Betsy and A.J. in the first row.

Q: Over the years what was the worst time with A.J. for you?

JS: “The worst time? There were three of them that bothered me. When we were at Du Quoin [a one mile dirt track in Illinois],  and he came in and we had to refuel the car and it caught on fire. He jumped out and the car ran over him and broke his leg—twisted it around. He ran for the lake because he wanted to get in the water because he was still burning. He tripped over the guardrail and fell into some bushes that were there. Tony ran after him and then I got there and another  guy got there and the guy kept yanking on the top of A.J.’s uniform around his neck and I shoved that guy out of the way. I had a knife or something and when I cut open the uniform, it just went whooff—like it was burning inside and it relieved it. Then we got him in the ambulance and went to the hospital with him. His foot was all the way around backwards which was not a good sight. The assistant in there was trying to undo his uniform and she was struggling with it. I said, give me your scissors and I cut it off of him for her. 

On fire from a refueling accident at DuQuoin, Foyt leapt from car which then ran over his leg and broke it. 

“And the next one was at Michigan when he crashed and hurt his arm real bad. I remember at the hospital, I went in to see him just before he went in for surgery. They had his arm hanging up on a hook—kind of like in the meat market, and blood was just pouring out of his arm. An aide was mopping it up with a mop, I couldn’t believe it. But everything turned out fine. Then there was the time he got that car upside down at Daytona. They brought him into the hospital and they had his arms on his chest and one of them fell on the side of the stretcher and was dangling down and I thought ‘Oh no, school’s out.’ That was the first thing that went through my brain. Those were the three worst ones and I always hated to call Lucy. That was tough. But he came out of all of them. He’d come to the shop and have his IV bag hanging in the car window and come in. He’d have a cast on, and after about three weeks we’d cut the cast off and go racing again. Those were the worst times but we made the best of it we could.” [Starne was not at Foyt’s accident at Road America in 1990]

Q: And what was the best time – does one race stand out? 

JS: “I’d say all of them stood out. Since I went to work for him we won 23 races or something like that? [Actually the record book shows A.J. won 34 IndyCar, 2 Silver Crown, 31 USAC stock car, 2 sprint car and a one midget race.] All of them stood out, like winning four Indy car races at Pocono, but I think the best one was Indy because the car was built here in Houston, the engine was built here in Houston, I think that was a big accomplishment. 

The day after winning the 1977 Indy 500. Jack is kneeling at front of the car. Billy Woodruff is standing to left of crewman with cowboy hat. 

Q: For you to build it, that must be a real source of pride?

JS: “Well I didn’t do that by myself. We had myself, Billy Woodruff and Eddie Kuzma. Luji Lesovsky wasn’t working with us in ’77 but I learned an awful lot about fabricating from him and Eddie. Learned to weld aluminum, to hammer aluminum, build radiators, I learned to build everything. Those guys were real craftsmen. Get a sheet of aluminum, cut it up, bend it up, weld it together and you have an upright.” 

Q: Were you a fabricator before coming to A.J.’s team?

JS: “I was from the hotrod days and dragster days, chopping up cars and making custom cars.” [Note: Jack started working as a fabricator at an aircraft company after graduating high school in Southern California.]

Q: So they gave you the Master Class in fabrication then?

JS: “Yeah, that sounds about right.”

Q: What is one of your favorite A.J. stories? 

JS: “In ’74, we built new cars and the body had been changed from ‘73, but we struggled with the car and struggled with it. He’d say go measure the old one, then measure the new one, and we’d cuss and argue back and forth. I kept telling him, just try the other car. And he’d say, ‘No this is wrong and that’s wrong’ on the new one. I said, ‘We’ll just take it back to the shop, put it on the fixture and see what’s the matter with it. Maybe I missed something somewhere.’ He walked out of the garage and I followed him down to Gasoline Alley and I said, ‘A.J. we’ll just take the car home and see what’s wrong with it!’ And we are yelling at one another, okay? And he turned around to me and said, ‘It’ll be ok. Don’t worry about it.’ And the next day he set it on the pole. We argued for two weeks!”

Q: Was it something mentally he had to get over?

JS: “I honestly don’t know but they were carbon copies believe me. He was that way. In ‘67, we built three cars and on one car the speed angle was off a little bit and he hated that car. We were at Riverside road racing and I can’t remember the driver’s name, they called him Mr. Clean. His last name was Miller I think [Al Miller]. Anyway, A.J. got tangled up with him in the race. [A.J. said: “I just had to stay out of trouble and finish the race. I went off track to avoid Miller and I still got hit!”]  He came running back because we were going for the championship. He got in McCluskey’s car and he said, ‘I’m glad that goddam thing’s done, I never have liked that ^&%$ car.’ He got in McCluskey’s car and we did win the championship. He never did get in Hurtubise’s car [which they had brought as a backup car] because it broke early.”

Jack at work underneath a Coyote from the late 60s.

Q: What was your favorite race car in the history of AJ Foyt Racing?

JS: “I’m gonna have to say the ‘77 car.”

Q: Is there any race or situation that you would like to do over if you had the chance?

JS: “Yeah the year Rutherford won Indy [1976]. We just needed them to turn the green light on for half a lap.”

Q: What were the circumstances?

JS: “The rain came and we broke a front swaybar arm, so during the time we were down in the pit area, I took it back and welded it back together. All they needed to do was turn the green light on but they wouldn’t do it. About an hour and a half later the sun came out, the track dried up and it was beautiful. But it was over with.”

Q: Do you have any dreams or aspirations that were never realized?

JS: “I don’t think so. When I was a young kid I used to listen to the 500 on the radio all the time. And I always thought I’d like to go to Indy. And I always thought one place I never wanted to live was Texas. Now that was when I was a kid, maybe 6-7-8 yrs old.  I ended up with both of them.” 

Q: AJ loves operating his bulldozers on his ranch land, what is your favorite pastime or hobby?

JS: “I don’t really have a hobby. Sometimes I’d weld gears together at the shop and make statues out of them but I don’t really do that anymore. I just hang out. My hobby is my wife and my dog I guess. I used to like to travel – liked to go cruising. We’d go to Alaska quite often but I think that’ll be off for a while. We have friends that live two doors down that we’re close with and every Friday we go for a Mexican dinner, shoot the breeze for a couple hours and have a good time. Other people know that we go there and they’ll drop by and we’ll have a half a dozen friends there. And two weeks later, somebody different will come by.”

Betsy and Jack Starne attended the Houston Sports Hall of Fame induction of A.J. Foyt in January, 2019. 

Q: Aside from AJ, who was best driver on dirt and best on pavement that you ever saw? 

JS: “I’d say Al Unser Sr. On both. To me, Al thinks like A.J. does. He always knows what’s happening way out in front. I think a lot of race drivers now just drive off the front of their car. And you have Andretti, he was awful tough too. But if I had to pick one or the other, I’d have to pick Al Sr. When I first got to Indy when they did both the pavement cars and the dirt cars, I don’t think Parnelli was still driving the dirt. But he was awful good on the dirt too.”

Q: Lastly, which chief mechanic did you respect or admire the most?

JS: “I worked around an awful lot of them through the years and I’d say Clint Brawner and George Bignotti (pictured with A.J.). They were quite a bit different. Clint would do anything he could with what he had where Bignotti wouldn’t. George went more for the newer stuff and Clint probably didn’t have the budget that Bignotti had. They were both great chief mechanics and if I had to single one out, I couldn’t. If I needed something, I could go talk to them, borrow something.”

Q: What made them so good?

JS: “They knew from their experience, what to look for, where the problem was gonna be and they always took care of it. Like I said about the groundwire breaking [and not running a second as backup], they knew from experience what to do. That’s why their cars were always so good and there at the end. You’ve got to be there at the end to win the race.”

A master fabricator indeed! Jack did all of the fabrication work to restore the Maier Cycle midget, powered by two BMW motorcycle engines, and owned by Greg Klar (far right), whose father Russ drove the car with success in the late ’40s. Foyt’s painters Bill Spruielle and Tom Ulch restored the black beauty to her glory years. Foyt took a keen interest in the project because of the unique engine.

Notes & Quotes: Chevrolet 275 at Michigan International Speedway

April 9, 2020

TONY KANAAN will be iRacing at Michigan International Speedway (MIS) in the No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet which will be a totally new experience for the IndyCar veteran with the stellar MIS record. He won his first ever Indy Car race at Michigan as a sophomore in the CART IndyCar Series in 1999. He also won the last race there in 2007 when the IndyCar Series last competed at MIS. In nine starts at MIS, he posted five Top-Five finishes including two wins plus a runner-up finish the year he won the pole there in 2004. Kanaan recalled that victorious day in 1999 at Michigan when we asked him a few questions…

Q: What do you recall of your first ever INDYCAR victory, the U.S. 500 at Michigan Speedway in 1999?

TK: “I had an issue with the rear gurney, went a lap down, lost the radio communication and then came back from a lap down and Max Papis ran out of fuel on the last corner. I was running second and I won the race. I went from ‘Oh my day’s over’ to ‘Ah, it’s going to be a podium – cool! My best finish in IndyCar – Awesome’ to the last corner and ‘It’s going to be a win!’ And then I almost lost it because when I passed Max I had to lift a bit and Montoya almost got me at the line.”

Q: Do you remember that feeling?

TK: “Oh yeah…it was my first win in a big series—my dream come true! It was like a big movie came through my head because I was really young, suffered through everything I did, lived in the shop, promised my dad to never give up, all these things came to me and all of a sudden I can’t believe that I won. It was an awesome feeling.”

Q: How did it compare to winning the Indy 500?

TK: “Different. Different times. Your first win you never forget but I hate to say it, but nothing compares to winning Indy. That’s just the reality. It’s cool to remember your first win but if I had never won Indy it would be a bigger problem than that because anybody can win a race. But not just anybody can win the Indy 500.”

Q: Have you run on an oval in iRacing yet?

TK: “Yes I actually raced in Texas the other day in one of their races during the week. I finished fourth and Matheus [Leist] finished second.”

Q: How does it compare to the iRacing on road courses?

TK: “It’s a little different. The problem is that it is just a video game. It’s not real. I think it will be more fun on the oval, you will see more passing, you’ll see more close racing because it’s the nature of the ovals. It’s a bit more fun for us too because at least you can run in a pack.”

Q: What is the most challenging part of iRacing?

TK: “The biggest challenge is to understand what kind of equipment you have. The most difficult part for me is… you have the same car in the game, but you don’t have the same equipment at home. So that makes a huge difference. It is not just about the quality of the rig but also to understand how your rig behaves. It has different reactions. Being race car drivers, we’re used to the same thing over and over. The Indy car is the same car all the time. You change tracks and you change set-ups but the steering is the same feel, the reaction is the same and that does not happen in the game. So that is the challenge for me.”

Neither Sebastien Bourdais nor Dalton Kellett have competed at the two mile banked superspeedway but they have been practicing this week on the virtual MIS.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet): “I have been turning laps

 around MIS on my own and in small groups. It is pretty easy flat on your own with fresh Firestones, but when you get past half tanks, if you catch some traffic, it gets very tricky. Much like the first two races, it will be a game of survival where managing to stay out of trouble will prove very hard. I am looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of our No. 4 Tresiba car and hope to make AJ Foyt Racing and Chevrolet proud.”

DALTON KELLETT (No. 41 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet): This weekend’s race at MIS is going to be exciting, judging from the practice sessions this week. As the cars are configured, we can definitely run two-by-two at both ends of the track. I think we can expect pack-racing with tire degradation and fuel strategy coming into play. I don’t think the pack will spread out as it did during the first two rounds, so it will be a fun race to watch. Important things to focus on will be staying out of trouble and finding clean air to save the front tires.

NBCSN is set to run a 90-minute broadcast of the 85-lap Chevrolet 275 at Michigan International Speedway this Saturday afternoon starting at 2:30 p.m. ET. While enjoying the broadcast, fans can see the race from the drivers’ perspectives inside the cockpit by watching a Facebook live feed on the AJ Foyt Racing fan page. Dalton Kellett will also be showing his perspective on Twitch TV.

Stay inside-get Foyt to your door, 20% off

Greetings from California.

20% off all wines now

We hope this finds you safe and in good spirits. With everything happening in our world right now, we want to share an update from our community and industry.

On March 15, California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a recommendation for winery tasting rooms to close immediately. Subsequently, on March 17 the Sonoma County government issued a “shelter in place” order directing all individuals living in the county to stay at their place of residence, with exception to those that may need to leave to provide or receive certain essential services, engage in certain essential activities and work for essential businesses and governmental services.

We at Foyt Family Wines are assigned “essential business” status, and therefore will remain open for as long as we can. While our tasting rooms are closed, the production side is still operational. We have opted for limited crews to manage any winemaking and viticulture duties. Our winery is quite spread out, so the remaining crew is able to work in a naturally distanced environment. Our selection of wine is still available online, and our logistics department is standing by to ship any and all orders for as long as UPS and other carriers continue to make wine deliveries.

Since we produce alcohol, we have access to 190 proof distilled grape spirits. We have been producing our own hand sanitizers getting them to those in need. The safety of all our customers, friends, families and every single American is at the forefront of our prayers and thoughts.

With the concerns of social distancing, stress of closed businesses and uncertainty of how long our lives will be affected by this pandemic, we remain open with the hope that our wine clubs and internet sales stay afloat. There is no doubt that these are unprecedented times, but our industry is no stranger to adversity. In 2017 we were able to overcome the devastating wine country fires and evacuations, and we know that we will all make it through this too.

To help provide some comfort and relief during this time, we are happy to offer 20% off all of wines in our online store. For those who like to buy in bulk we are also offering one cent shipping for orders of three bottles or more.

If you love wine, please do what you can to support the smaller boutique wineries that don’t have the massive budgets to weather this storm. There are so many to choose from and every online orders helps.  Of course, we hope you continue to enjoy our wines, but any support for our local winery community truly supports us as well.

Be Safe!

Extraordinary Times – A.J. Foyt Racing closes shops – employees keep paychecks

WALLER, Texas—Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.

With the invasion of the Coronavirus or COVID-19, not only is our country navigating uncharted territory, but so is the rest of the world. Many people will face unprecedented hardship due to the drastic but necessary measures being taken to confront the spread of this insidious disease. As our government addresses ways to lessen those hardships, Americans are doing their part by following the directives to stay home and stay safe.

After consulting with his father, Larry Foyt communicated to the AJ Foyt Racing employees that their pay will not be interrupted despite temporarily closing the team’s race shop in Indianapolis and the team’s headquarters in Waller, Texas.

“Our biggest concern is for the health of our communities and our employees, so we are closing the race shops for the time being,” said Larry Foyt, president of A.J. Foyt Enterprises, Inc. “I want to thank our partners and sponsors for their support and understanding during these extraordinary times. Many people will face some difficult challenges in the coming days. A.J. and I wish everyone the best, and we look forward to going racing again when the time is right.”

With people confined to their homes, or in the case of A.J. to his ranch where he can ride his bulldozer, we will work to provide interesting content on this website in the coming days. We look forward to hearing from race fans as to how they are spending their days and the positives gained from this experience which we can share. Please send your stories to info@ajfoytracing.com with the Subject line of Extraordinary Times. Please include a picture if you can and we will start publishing your stories on our website along with those from our race team.

Extraordinary times indeed.

Notes & Quotes: Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

SOURCE: FOYT PR March 10, 2020 SÉBASTIEN BOURDAIS joined AJ Foyt Racing to run a limited schedule of four races this season, including the first three on the NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule. Born in Le Mans, France and now a resident of St. Petersburg for nearly 15 years, he won his first of 34 pole positions in…

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ripKurrent Signs as Primary Sponsor of No. 4 Chevrolet for the Indianapolis 500

WALLER, Texas— AJ Foyt Racing has signed ripKurrent, an energy services company, as the primary sponsor of Charlie Kimball’s No. 4 Chevrolet for the 104th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. Moreover, ripKurrent will have a season-long presence on the car as an associate marketing partner.

“I am excited for ripKurrent to come on board for the 104th Running of the Indianapolis

  500 with AJ Foyt Racing,” Kimball said. “As a tech company that is disrupting the norms associated with commercial and industrial facility energy usage and finding efficiencies for those companies, there is no better place to showcase technology, speed and success than the Indianapolis Motor Speedway!”

The ripKurrent logo will be on the nose of the No. 4 Chevrolet throughout the season and the car will feature a distinctive ripKurrent livery for the Indy 500. The company plans to entertain its guests throughout the month of May.

“We are very excited to be partnered with AJ Foyt Racing and Charlie Kimball for the 2020 season, and more specifically, the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500,” said Jade Culbertson, founder and president of ripKurrent, LLC.  “After attending many Indy 500s as a native Hoosier, it will be surreal to think we have an entry with a world class team in AJ Foyt Racing and driver Charlie Kimball in the race. They have the knowledge, experience and skill to put the car in victory circle.”

Based in Boca Raton, Florida, ripKurrent is expanding its involvement in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES after having sponsored Kimball’s car at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway last August.

 “The NTT INDYCAR Series and the Indianapolis 500 provide ideal platforms for us to continue to grow the ripKurrent brand,” Culbertson explained.  “The pageantry, entertainment and hospitality experience at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is second to none and we’re excited to share that with our customers, business associates, family and friends throughout the month of May.  Speed, innovation, technology and efficiency are synonymous with INDYCAR and that aligns perfectly with our brand and energy services business at ripKurrent. We’re serious about reducing energy consumption for our clients, resulting in a reduced carbon footprint, a healthier planet and significant cost savings.”

The No. 4 Chevrolet, which is based in the team’s Waller, Texas race shop, will feature several different liveries over the course of the season as the team continues to sign marketing partners for its two-car operation.

“We welcome our new partner ripKurrent for the 2020 season,” said Larry Foyt, president of AJ Foyt Racing. “We are thrilled that they will be the primary sponsor of Charlie Kimball’s No. 4 car in the Indianapolis 500. The ripKurrent Chevrolet looks amazing, and I can’t wait to hear it at full song around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.” 

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES opens with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg the weekend of March 13 – 15. That same weekend Kimball’s teammate Sebastien Bourdais will pilot the No. 14 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet in the first of four races he plans to drive this season.

Champion Sebastien Bourdais and Rookie Dalton Kellett Set To Run Partial Seasons in the No. 14 Chevrolet in 2020

WALLER, Texas —Four-time Champ Car Series champion Sebastien Bourdais and Canadian rookie Dalton Kellett complete the driver roster for the No. 14 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet.

Indianapolis 500 champion Tony Kanaan, who announced last week that this year will be his final season in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, will drive the No. 14 in the five oval races, starting with the Indy 500 on May 24.

Joining AJ Foyt Racing for the first time is Bourdais, who will pilot the No. 14 in four

 races including the season opener in St. Petersburg, Fla. He will also compete at Barber Motorsports Park in Leeds, Ala., the streets of Long Beach, Calif., and the road course in Portland, Ore. Bourdais returns to Chevrolet power for the first time since the 2016 IndyCar season. Born in Le Mans, France nearly 12 years after Foyt’s triumph there in 1967, Bourdais now lives in St. Petersburg.

“I am such a lucky man,” Bourdais said. “Starting my IndyCar career driving for Paul Newman and Carl Haas, and now I get to drive for A.J. Foyt! I am both honored and thankful for the opportunity Larry and his team have provided me with. Staying in the NTT IndyCar series seemed like a long shot back in November. My teammates and I will be working very hard to deliver the results this organization deserves, and I can’t wait for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg to come.”

Kellett will make his INDYCAR debut at the Circuit of the Americas race in Austin, Texas on April 26. He will also compete in the Indianapolis Grand Prix, the Indy 500, both races in Detroit, Elkhart Lake, Wis., Toronto, Lexington, Ohio (Mid-Ohio) and Monterey, Calif.

Kellett, 26, is a graduate of the Mazda Road to Indy driver development system. He competed in the US F-2000 Series, made a brief showing in the Pro Mazda Series and spent much of his time (four years) in the Indy Lights Series where he ranked seventh in the final two seasons. In addition to Indy Lights in 2019, Kellett made a foray into the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship where he claimed three class victories and one pole in the LMP2 division.

“I am honored to compete in the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES with AJ Foyt Racing,” Kellett said. “This opportunity is truly a dream come true for me, dating back to my days looking up to the drivers in INDYCAR back as a young go-karter. The pedigree and achievements of AJ Foyt Racing are historic in our sport, and I can’t wait to contribute to their ongoing success.

“This season, there will be plenty to learn including the exciting challenge of adapting to an all new car for me. Luckily, I am fortunate to be partnered with three series veterans in Kanaan, Kimball, and Bourdais. I’m looking forward to working with them and learning from their combined experience to grow as a driver. Thank you to the team and my partners for this opportunity. It will be an honor to represent K-Line Insulators USA at this level of the sport.”

Team President Larry Foyt believes that the multi-driver roster will help the team regain its footing in the highly competitive NTT INDYCAR SERIES this season. With Kanaan and Bourdais, who combined, have won 54 races and 49 poles, plus an eager young driver like Kellett, Foyt is working towards building his team for the future.

“There will be many familiar faces in the Foyt garages this season, but there will be some new faces as well,” Foyt said. “Coming off a season we were disappointed with, changes were inevitable. I believe adding a multi-time champion like Sebastien Bourdais to our team will help us as we regroup and work to regain a competitive position. Being able to retain Indy 500 champion Tony Kanaan is another source of excitement and will serve to push our oval program to a place where we can fight for victories. Dalton Kellett is a young driver who is intelligent and motivated, and with the experience around him, we feel he has the potential to show great things. Altogether, the 14 car has an intriguing lineup, and I’m excited to see how it plays out.”

Both Bourdais and Kellett, along with Charlie Kimball who will drive the No. 4 Chevrolet this season, will participate in the upcoming Open Test at the Circuit of the Americas February 11-12.

The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be held Sunday, March 15. The race will be broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network starting at 3:30 p.m. ET.

A.J. Foyt on the passing of John Andretti

A.J. Foyt on the passing of his godson John Andretti, who succumbed today after a lengthy battle with colon cancer:

“My deepest condolences to the whole Andretti family. This is a very sad day. I was John’s godfather and it seemed the older we got, the closer we got. He called me about a week and a half ago and he sounded tired but I didn’t think it would happen this quick. When Mario called me, it really caught me off guard. I thought John had more time. John was really a fighter and he fought this long and hard. There was no harder fighter than him. It’s a terrible shame. Whenever and wherever they have his service, I’ll be there.”

Andretti was the first to compete in both the Indy 500 and the Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on the same day May 29, 1994. At Indy, John drove for A.J. and finished 10th;  at Charlotte he placed 36th having to drop out after 220 laps with a broken crankshaft. It was the second straight year he finished 10th for Foyt at Indy, having driven for him in 1993, the year Foyt retired.

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