A.J. Foyt Remembers George Bignotti
WALLER, Texas Sept. 27, 2013—Auto racing lost one of the all-time great chief mechanics today when George Bignotti passed away at his home in Las Vegas. He was 97.
“I’d say he was one of the greatest mechanics that was ever at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We had such a close relationship and even though I went on my merry way, we were still close up to his death,” said A.J. Foyt.
Bignotti, whose record shows 85 Indycar victories including seven Indianapolis 500 wins with five different drivers, including Foyt, Indy’s first four-time winner. The other drivers who visited victory lane with Bignotti-tuned cars were Graham Hill (’66), Indy’s second four-time winner Al Unser (who won with Bignotti in ’70 and ’71), Gordon Johncock (’73) and Tom Sneva (’83).
Foyt signed with Bignotti’s Bowes Seal Fast team in 1960, posted his first of a record 67 victories, and went on to win the national championship that year.
“He was such a great mechanic and he had such fast race cars and I was just a snot-nosed kid coming up,” said Foyt, whose first turn at the wheel for Bignotti was in a midget before the Indy car season began. “I drove at Ascot (Speedway in Gardena, Calif.) and drove midgets for him and we won a lot of races at Ascot. About everywhere I drove for him we won."
“Sometimes he would get mad at me when I’d drive the midget, he’d say, ‘You’re gonna kill yourself! Quit being so wild in that damn thing!’ Foyt recalled, laughing at the memory. In the past, Foyt credited Bignotti with teaching him to enjoy salads—quite a feat considering Foyt was (and is) a diehard meat-and-potatoes man.