He mastered the treachery of Langhorne, nearly suffocated at Riverside, got burned badly at Milwaukee, survived a blood clot in Michigan and came back from devastating foot and knee injuries at Road America.
But A.J. Foyt’s great escapes in race cars almost seem tame compared to his battles with killer bees.
The first four-time Indy 500 winner is recovering at home in Houston after being savagely attacked on Wednesday at his ranch in Texas. He was repeatedly stung in the face, eyes and neck, but managed to find shelter and survived.
For those of you scoring at home, it’s either the 29th or 30th time the 83-year-old legend has dodged death.
“It was scary, I won’t lie,” Foyt told RACER on Thursday evening while sitting in his race shop in Waller, Texas. “I pushed down a tree with my bulldozer and thought I saw a bunch of honey bees, but they weren’t.
“So I threw it in reverse and got away from them. At least I thought I did. I got off the dozer and had about a block to walk to my truck when they came swarming down on me.
“I started running and made it to my truck and I got the windows down going about 60 mph trying to keep them off my face but they’re stinging my eyes and my neck, and I’m glad I had a jacket on.”
He slammed on the brakes, ran into the ranch house and turned on the cold water. “I stuck my face in ice water because it was burning and it felt like about 500 degrees,” he exclaimed.
“I was lucky because those bees sting you until you quit breathing.”
He went to the hospital, where his blood pressure was 260 over 116 and the doctors were worried because this was the second encounter IndyCar’s all-time winner has had with these Africanized bees (he was attacked in 2005).
This attack was worse, but he was stabilized and out of the hospital by Thursday afternoon. Then he got revenge.
“They sent my airplane for me but I told them I wasn’t going home until I killed those bees,” he said. “We got 15 gallons of diesel fuel and dropped it and set those bastards on fire. I felt a lot better after that.”
Besides his pain and facial decorations (“I look like I fought Mike Tyson and lost”), the other tough part of this latest drama is that he won’t be able to go to Sebring this weekend and be the grand marshal or be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Friday night.
“I feel bad about that but they’ve got me on a lot of medication and I don’t really feel up to traveling,” said the American racing icon. “It’s been a tough couple days and I need to rest.”
Just another chapter of great escapes from what has to be one of the toughest men alive.