Sixty years ago, a raw-boned kid from Houston raced into the national conscious by winning the Indianapolis 500 in only his fourth try. And next month ABC Supply is paying tribute to Anthony Joseph Foyt Jr. with a throwback livery to be driven by veteran J.R. Hildebrand.
Hildebrand’s No. 1 Dallara-Chevy doesn’t resemble that Bowes Seal Fast Offenhauser except for how it’s going to be wrapped — with an apple red nose trimmed in black stripes over a primary white body. And Chip Ganassi kindly agreed to give the No. 1 to Foyt since he was that year’s USAC national champion.
“At my age I don’t get excited anymore, but I’m thrilled to see this car painted like my 1961 car,” said the 86-year-old legend who will be fielding four cars for the 105th Indy 500. “That win was so special because it was my dream just to be good enough to make the race. They were all sweet victories but to win that first one where I came from was unbelievable.
“Having ABC as the sponsor is fantastic. They were awful good to us as our main sponsor for 15 years and they came back for the 50 last year when things were pretty tough. It just shows you what kind of company they are ands we’ve been great friends and we’ll remain that way.”
Hildebrand, who came within one corner of winning Indianapolis in 2011, had qualified for 10 straight May classics and joins Sebastian Bourdais, Charlie Kimball and Dalton Kellet in the line-up.
“That boy knows his way around this place,” said Foyt referring to IMS. “I heard he’s good with a chassis too and I think he’s going to help us.”
At 33, Hildebrand has become more of an Indy 500 specialist after racked up finishes of second, sixth and eighth while qualifying sixth and ninth.
“This is definitely a drive to be excited about for multiple reasons,” said the Californian. “Getting a chance to drive for A.J. and Larry is something special no matter what but with ABC honoring the 60th anniversary of his first win makes it extra special. I’ll be back with Chevy, which I’ve spent most of my IndyCar career driving and a chance to reunite, in a way, with an engineer I’ve had success with before in Justin Taylor, who is Seb’s race engineer this year.”
ABC Supply COO Mike Jost likes the scenario. “A.J. is a living legend and part of the ABC family and we’re honored to help him celebrate the 60th anniversary of the first of his four Indy wins.”
Team president Larry Foyt understands the depth of this year’s field and welcomes a savvy veteran.
“Being able to sign a qualify driver like J.R. will add another source of valuable feedback to our team, which is especially important given the talent-packed Indy 500 this year.”