Bump Weekend

Speedway, IN (May 17, 2009) – Bump Day evokes memories of many journeyman drivers risking it all to make the Indianapolis 500. Typically, most of these drivers are not the special few who win the “500” however they were special in another way. These drivers had the rare ability to jump into a car which perhaps another driver was struggling with all month and the new driver could ‘put it in the show.’ Drivers like Eddie Johnson, Bob Harkey, George Snider and John Mahler were a few known for walking down pit lane, helmet in hand petitioning car owners for a chance.

The first driver to be bumped and re-qualify was Spider Webb in 1948. Webb was bumped from the field in the Anderson Special and re-qualified the Fowler Brothers Bromme to make the race.

The first car associated with Foyt to qualify on the last day was in 1963 when fellow Texan, Ebb Rose took A.J.’s back-up car, a newly built Watson, and qualified for the last row. A.J. was driving the Floyd Trevis “roadster” he drove to victory in 1961, Rose’s Watson “roadster” would be the car Foyt would drive to his second victory the following year.

In 1965, Foyt and George Bignotti gave a rookie from Albuquerque a chance to qualify for the “500.” Al Unser took A.J.’s back-up Lola on the final day to qualify in the middle of the last row. Remarkably the following year, George Snider, forever linked to A.J. actually qualified on the front row in a car owner by Foyt and his partners Shirley Thompson and Bill Ansted. Unfortunately, as Snider led Mario Andretti and Jim Clark into turn one, seventeen cars were piling together on the main straight stopping the race.

It isn’t easy making the “500” especially in 1967 for two Foyt drivers. Veteran driver Bob “Caveman” Christie wrecked a Lotus of Foyt’s while searching for speed in practice and later rookie Gary Congdon didn’t fare much better as he missed the field in another Lotus of Foyt’s. Nevertheless that year saw motorcycle racer Joe Leonard qualified next to A.J. on the second row and as A.J. went on to record his third victory, ‘Pelican Joe’ followed to a third place finish.

In 1968, Texan Jim McElreath qualified on the first weekend and journeyman driver, Carl Williams qualified on the last weekend.

Snider returned to the Foyt stable in 1969 qualifying the familiar No. 84 entry that he would eventually drive seven times in the “500”. Snider qualified the No. 84 in 1981, however Tim Richmond purchased the ride for the race. Speaking of numerology, some may not remember that Snider also drove the No. 1 in 1983 for being the 1981-82 USAC Gold Crown champion, the No. 4 in 1984, and the No. 44 in 1985. In 1973, Snider cemented himself in the memories of many fans by taking A.J.’s back-up, a Bob Riley designed wide nose Coyote and bumped Sam Posey from the field after taking only one lap of practice. Snider’s run happened as the final gun fired signaling the end of qualifying.

Final day qualifying heroics disappeared for the Foyt team awhile as Snider qualified on the first day in ’74 in an Atlanta chassis. Foyt did not run a back-up in 1975, 1976 or 1979. However in ’76 Foyt ran Janet Guthrie in practice to show she could’ve made the race after struggling in Rolla Vollstedt’s car.

In 1977 Billy Vukovich, Jr. ran the No. 84 for Foyt after qualifying 23rd. In 1978 both Foyt and Snider qualified on the second weekend. Some may forget, but “Ziggy” Snider did qualify for A.J. on the first weekend as he did in ’66, pulling the feat again in 1983. “Ziggy” qualified the experimental Chevy V-6 that Foyt was developing in 1985 and 1987. In 1988, he declined A.J.’s invitation and USAC midget star, Stan Fox of Janesville, WI coaxed the colorful car into the show.

In 1984, there were many smiles when Johnny Rutherford was able to put A.J.’s March 84C-Cosworth in the show on bump day after struggling most of the month with Doug Shierson’s DSR-1. Rutherford remarked after his run, “A.J. said, ‘We’ve got one shot today, let’s try it,’ and I thought, ‘Well, by golly, if he wants me to get out there and go like that I’ve got to put out an effort for him.” Rutherford began his run with a little over five minutes to go before qualifying was over, however during the run smoke started to come into the cockpit. Yet Rutherford was able to coax enough speed and everything held together for him to complete the run and make the field. “I crossed my fingers the last lap and a half because I could smell it in the cockpit.” Rutherford said after his run.

In 1994, the rookie Bryan Herta qualified on the first day with what was thought to be a comfortable 221-average. However, others started to beat that time and on Bump Day, the popular No. 14 was on the bubble. Longtime Team Manager, Craig Baranouski remembered, “It was nerve-wracking, we’ve never been in a position like that before. There were several factors, he (Herta) was a rookie, we had weather (rain cut short previous week’s qualifying), plus the air was real heavy. There were guys that got in who we were faster than, but they got in another day in which the weather was better. We only had (limited) attempts per car. Once you took the checker you were in until you got bumped out. Then you had to get another car. It made it a lot harder, you had to be prepared. Pole Day there were more cars going for 33 spots. When they filled those spots up and if the weather (rain) came that was all that was in. We were sitting on the bubble when the gun went off.”

However having someone like Foyt whispering in your ear does have its positives as Baranouski added, “Anytime with a rookie the nerves build up and that’s where A.J. is so good, he can tell them what’s coming, what may happen, because he’s been through it all before. “

Another pressure situation was Billy Boat’s heroics. Baranouski continues, “In 2000 we put Billy (Boat) in a car and his first laps in the car was his qualifying run. Billy was great under pressure, it didn’t bother him.”

In the beginning of the month, Boat was in the Team Pelfrey car. However while looking for extra speed earlier in the day, Boat wiped out the car. Foyt watching the situation yelled to his crew to get the spare car out. Afterwards Foyt was happy to help an old friend out, “The kid’s one hell of a good friend of mine and that’s one hell of a job he did. That takes guts to do what he did. The car never had a hot lap, he never was in it. That’s unbelievable.”

There have been other memorable moments on the final weekend of qualifying: Paul Durant in 1997, Robbie Buhl in 1999, Donnie Beechler in 2001, Airton Dare in 2003 and Jeff Simmons last year. Many won’t forget Felipe Giaffone getting a phone call while shopping to come to the Speedway on Bump Day to qualify a Foyt car.

The ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing Team didn’t have any late fireworks this year due to having both cars qualify on the first weekend. The Foyt team has firmly entrenched its mark on Bump Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Vitor Meira will start his No. 14 ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara-Honda 14th for the 93rd running of the Indianapolis 500. Teammate A.J. Foyt IV will start his No. 41 ABC Supply-Greer A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara 19th. A.J. Foyt will be participating in his 52nd straight Indy 500 this year. Foyt became the first driver to win the 500 four times with his victory in 1977. Other victories as a driver came in 1961, 1964 and 1967. He won it solely as a car owner in 1999 with Kenny Brack driving.

The 2009 IndyCar Series season continues May 24 with the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 1 p.m. (EDT) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. The radio broadcast also will be carried on

The 2009 Milwaukee Mile schedule includes the Sunday, May 31 ABC Supply / A.J. Foyt 225 IndyCar Series race day. For details regarding all individual ticket and ticket package opportunities, visit the speedway’s website,, or call (414) 453-8277.

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