The A.J. Foyt Racing team is looking to make a return to junior open-wheel racing as part of a plan to develop next-generation talent for its IndyCar Series program.
According to team president Larry Foyt, adding an Indy Lights program to the existing two-car IndyCar effort for Tony Kanaan and Matheus Leist would make sense after its last foray in the category – the former Infiniti Pro Series – netted a championship in 2002 and wins in 2003.
“What I would say is this year I’ve definitely been taking a hard look at getting back involved in Indy Lights,” he said. “I know everyone is working hard at getting that series back where it needs to be, but for us, I only want to do something if it’s gonna be a benefit to our main stable, which is IndyCar.
“So I feel like on the Indy Lights side it would be a great place for us to start training young mechanics, getting drivers in the system, coming up like other teams have done. Indy Lights makes a lot of sense for us. At the same time, it’s still a tough sell, and we’re working on that, though.”
The Foyt team has long ties to the Lights series after fielding its first entries in the late 1980s for eventual Indy Racing League founder Tony George. George’s stepson Ed Carpenter, who would go on to found his own IndyCar Series team, also drove for Foyt in IPS, and with everyone from Anthony Foyt IV to Jeff Simmons having driven for the Indy car legend, the timing could be right to add a new chapter to its Lights participation.
“We’ve got the space [and] I’ve been talking to some people,” Foyt added. “I think there is some manpower out there, a couple good mechanics and a good engineer that would be able to run an Indy Lights program, so those kind of things could be in place. It’s obviously at this point just a budgeting factor. We’ve talked to some people where we’re pretty close I think, but it’s still a little bit short.
“So definitely I’m not gonna commit unless it’s gotta be a bolster [to its IndyCar program]; it’s gotta help it out. I’d say it’s a 50/50 at this point for next year, but down the road, as we really keep working on feelers and things like that, I think it’s definitely a possibility.”
After Indy Lights, Foyt is also looking into options for a return to sports car racing where the team once held a prominent position in the 1980s IMSA GTP scene.
“I’ve looked at sports car stuff,” he said. “I would love to get, with our history of A.J. winning the 24 Hours of Daytona and winning Le Mans, it would be awesome to have a presence over in sports car again with the right manufacturer. So [it’s] just stuff we’re kind of dabbling in, because I feel like also that’s a place [where] if you can do it properly then you can continue to build your resources and you just have more smart people in the room that ideas are coming out, and you can work on things to keep gaining on your performance.
“It would just have to be the right deal. I definitely don’t just do anything to do it, but we are working at it. I don’t have a ton of people helping me. It’s kinda myself working on those types of things right now, but definitely stuff we’re looking at. I’d say Indy Lights would probably be the closest avenue that we would look at, because I think if we did that, it could benefit the IndyCars.”