Foyt, Dirt Cars And The Milwaukee Mile

Legendary auto racing icon, A.J. Foyt of Houston, TX has raced at The
Milwaukee Mile more than any other track. Dating back to 1957, Foyt
has raced front-engine roadsters, rear-engine Indy Cars, ultrafast
ground-effect Indy Cars and even USAC Stock Cars, Sprints Cars and
nimble Offenhauser-powered midget race cars at the legendary one-mile
oval. However, mention the upright USAC Dirt Cars and it’ll always
makes Super-Tex smile.

Foyt considers his run in the 200-mile National Championship race in
1965 at The Mile one of his best. He sat on the pole in the white,
red and blue Sheraton-Thompson Special out qualifying 25 other cars
including drivers such as Mario Andretti, Dan Gurney and Gordon
Johncock who were driving in newer sleeker rear-engine cars.

Foyt eventually finished second to Johncock in the race. However,
Foyt grins when he remembers that race on August 22nd, 1965, a day, in
what has become one his most legendary drives. Why? Foyt had raced
the day before in Springfield, Illinois. Yet, when Foyt’s rear-engine
Lotus did not arrive with his crew in time to qualify that Sunday, it
forced Foyt to unload his dirt car. As the decision was made, Foyt
worried his antiquated machine wouldn’t be quick enough to make the
starting field.

Foyt scrambled to find tires and get practice time. As Foyt recalled,
dirt was still shaking loose from his car on his qualifying attempt –
which was quick enough to earn the pole position, much to the shock of
his competition and to the delight of the crowd. Had he not had to
make a pit stop for fuel during the race (dirt cars could only hold
enough fuel for 100 miles), Foyt would not have finished second to
Gordon Johncock in most memorable drive. It remains Foyt’s favorite
racing memory at America’s Legendary Oval.

Some may forget that Foyt drove a dirt car twice in the modern
rear-engine era at Milwaukee. In 1969, once again the USAC contingent
raced at Springfield on Saturday and towed up to Milwaukee for the
one-day show at the Wisconsin Fairgrounds track on Sunday.

In practice, Foyt encountered mechanical issues causing him to bench
his Coyote-Ford for his poppy-red dirt car. This time the car was no
match for the rear-engine cars that were four years advanced since the
’65 race and many were now equipped with turbochargers. Foyt
qualified 14th for the Tony Bettenhausen 200. Stayed in the hunt all
day long and finished in ninth place.

Those dirt cars which are now called Silver Crown cars will return to
the Milwaukee Mile.

Qualifying for the IndyCar Series and USAC Series races are set for
Saturday, June 18, with the Milwaukee 225 IndyCar race scheduled for
2:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 19. Tickets are available at the Wisconsin
State Fair Park, at or by calling

Racing action will began at 10:15 a.m. on Friday, June 17, and will
include the IZOD IndyCar Series, USAC Silver Crown, USAC Midgets, Star
Mazda Championship and USF2000 machines.

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