Open Test: Highs and Lows

PHOENIX Feb. 27, 2016—The Verizon IndyCar Series returned to Phoenix International Raceway with an Open Test this weekend. For the ABC Supply team it was a case of highs and lows.

Both Takuma Sato and Jack Hawksworth visited PIR for the first time yesterday. Both ABC Supply drivers enjoyed running at the one mile oval track, of which Sato said, “It's great to be back in the car especially on the oval-- the sensation of speed is very exciting. Phoenix is a quite challenging track. I like that Turn 1 and Turn 4 are very different in character. It’s great fun!”

The cars ran a daytime session (12 – 3pm) and a night session (5-8pm) both days which allowed them to test the cars in track conditions they will have for qualifying (daytime) and the race, which starts in the early evening (around 5:30pm) on April 2.

Sato posted his best time in the Saturday evening session with a speed of 188.679mph, which was fourth best in that session. In the combined results for the two days, it was 13th quickest.

“It was a very productive two-day test here in Phoenix,” Sato said after the on-track activity concluded. “I’ve never been here before so there was a lot to learn, especially with the new aero package and new engine. The engine felt very powerful so we’re getting competitive speeds and that is exciting. The two sessions in the daytime and then again at night were quite tricky because the balance shift was quite big—more than we expected—but that means we learned a lot. Now we head to Sebring for another test to gather more data.”

Despite some minor setbacks, Hawksworth, who turns 25 Sunday, had been settling in when things took a turn for the worse in the final evening session. As he explained, “We came into Turn 1 and the car just got loose. I caught it, but by that time it had all the lateral force and just took me into the wall. I don’t know what happened, but we snapped and that was it.”

Hawksworth escaped injury, but the car sustained significant damage to the right side suspension. Hawksworth had reached a top speed of 184.010mph in the afternoon session.

Sato had lightly brushed the wall earlier in the night session when he had to avoid a car which slowed dramatically in the racing line in Turn 1. Sato’s car sustained cosmetic damage to the right rear bumper but was able to continue once the car was checked out by the ABC Supply crew.

The team returns to Sebring International Raceway Wednesday for a final test before the season opener in St. Petersburg March 11-13.

A.J. Foyt Waves Green at Rolex 24;
ABC Supply Team Tests Updated Honda Aero Kit at Sebring

A.J. Foyt returned to action this past weekend to wave the green flag at the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, Jan. 30. It was his first time back at a race track since Iowa Speedway in July. Foyt, 81, was the honorary starter for the sports car race which he won in 1983 and 1985.

“It was a lot of fun being back at Daytona and seeing some old friends,” said Foyt, who was visibly impressed with the first-of-its-kind motorsports stadium. “Joie [Chitwood president of DIS] and his staff have done an incredible job here. I think Mr. France and Bill, Jr. would be very proud of what Daytona has become.”

Foyt then traveled to Sebring International Raceway Monday morning to see his ABC Supply Racing Hondas take to the track for the first time equipped with the updated Honda aero kit package.

Veteran driver Takuma Sato was pleased with the drivability of the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda.

“It was nice to be back in the car after a long off-season,” said Sato. “There was a lot to cover at our first test and generally the day went well despite losing some track time due to an electrical issue. It was particularly interesting since it was our first time testing the new Honda aero kit. It shows very positive signs and I was very comfortable with it. Also I now work with Raul Prados as my race engineer; he was my assistant engineer in 2013 and 2014, and the day with him went really well. We have a lot to learn with the 2016 spec car but the team made good progress. They did great preparation over the winter so I feel very positive about the rest of the pre-season tests.”

Teammate Jack Hawksworth thought the test was productive on many levels.

"It felt great to be back in the car again after such a long break and the weather conditions were great which allowed us the opportunity to have a productive day,” said Hawksworth, who turns 25 on February 28th. “There has been a big restructuring in the team over the winter so it was also very useful to see how the new people and structure was going to work.

“We had a big list of test items to get through on the ABC Supply Hondas, and despite some early morning teething issues, we were able to try a lot of things on both cars, aerodynamically and mechanically,” he continued. “I think we made some decent progress and we now have a good foundation to build on heading into the next pre-season test. There's a lot of work to be done still across the board but it certainly feels like we are now heading in the right direction, and that is certainly exciting."

The test gave drivers the opportunity to work in a racing environment with Team Director George Klotz who joined the team last fall. The engineering staff was enlarged and personnel were moved around due to new hires. This year, Prados, who was chief engineer on Hawksworth’s car in 2015, moves to Sato’s car. Dan Hobbs, who worked most recently at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, joined the team in the off season and will be the chief engineer on Hawksworth’s car. Don Halliday returns for a fifth season but now in the role as Technical Director overseeing both engineers. Halliday was not at the test due to a family wedding.

"It was a good first test for the team,” said Team President Larry Foyt. “The engineers have worked very hard over the winter to come up with ideas to try to gain speed, and it was encouraging to see the results on track. Things are picking up quickly, and we will be almost non-stop right up to our first race in St. Petersburg. I'm excited to do more testing and see where we stack up compared to the competition."

In addition to two more private tests, and several shaker rig tests, the team will be at the Open Test at Phoenix International Raceway Feb. 26-27. The Verizon IndyCar Series kicks off their season with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday, March 13.

 

Happy Holidays!

We at AJ Foyt Racing would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and warm wishes for the holidays. We hope you have a wonderful and safe holiday wherever you may be spending it. We look forward to a great season and hope the new year is a happy and healthy one for you and your family!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY A.J.!!

HOUSTON January 16, 2016--A.J. Foyt turns 81 today.

"I never thought I would live this long. A lot of people never thought I would either."

As mesquite tough as the Texas land he grew up in, A.J. Foyt has suffered through death-defying accidents and overwhelming health problems the past 81 years. Take a look back at what he overcame to celebrate his birthday with his family, friends and many fans today.

Age 15 - Survived a boating accident in the Galveston Bay when a storm upended his boat, sadly only two of three teenagers survived.

Age 23 - First time he hit the wall in the Indy 500 when a water hose broke

Age 30 - His accident at Riverside (Calif.) Raceway saw him go end-over-end after his brakes failed. He was in critical condition with a bruised aorta, broken back and fractured heel.

Age 31 - He endured burns to his face, neck and hands when he hit the wall at Milwaukee during practice after a suspension failure.

Age 37 - He suffered burns to his back when his dirt car caught fire during a refueling stop. He broke his leg and ankle when he jumped from it and got run over by his own car.

Age 46 - His right arm was badly fractured when a tire failure sent his Indy car into the Armco barrier at Michigan.

Age 48 - He broke two vertebrae in his back after hitting the wall in his stock car at Daytona but won the Paul Revere 250 sports car race that night.

Age 55 - When his brakes failed at turn 1 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., he hit a dirt embankment, breaking his left knee and crushed his left heel, dislocating his left tibia and right heel and sustaining compartment syndrome in both feet. Came back eight months later to qualify second for the 1991 Indy 500.

Age 57 - Broke his left shoulder twice--first in qualifying for the Daytona 500 and then again while practicing for the Phoenix 200 Indycar race.

Age 69 - Suffered badly torn rotator cuff stepping off  his trackhoe excavator.

Age 70 - Survived attack of killer bees which led to systemic shock.

Age 71 - Underwent knee replacement for  his left leg

Age 72 - Escaped from drowning in his enclosed bulldozer when he overturned it into a lake on one of his ranches.

Age 77 - Contracted a nearly fatal staph infection after surgery to remove bone spurs around his artificial left knee.

Age 78 - Underwent back surgery in April, left hip replacement in July and a right knee replacement in December.

Age 79 - Underwent triple bypass surgery and nearly died after post-op complications.

Age 80 - Survived another serious bout of staph infection--this time in his right knee which needed to be replaced again.

So when we wish him Happy Birthday, we are really happy we can!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SUPER TEX!!

 

AJ Foyt Racing Moves Forward with 2016 Plans

WALLER, Texas Dec. 16, 2015—A.J. Foyt and his son Larry have made changes to the ABC Supply Racing team but they aren’t in the cockpit. Takuma Sato and Jack Hawksworth will continue as drivers of the ABC Supply Racing Hondas in 2016.

The changes include hiring George Klotz to serve as Team Director, and making Don Halliday the Technical Director wherein he will oversee the race engineers.

Team President Larry Foyt sees the changes as “an important step to bringing some consistency to the team’s performance” after a season of growing pains in 2015 when the team expanded to two full-season entries for the first time since 2002.

“We’re happy to have both Takuma and Jack continuing with us next season because we know they have the talent to win races,” said Foyt. “Maintaining that continuity and building on what we started last season should show immediate benefits. This winter we are focusing on putting all the pieces in place to not only win, but to be a championship caliber team. The consistency of keeping our nucleus together while strengthening our weak points should give us some very competitive ABC cars in the upcoming season.”

Sato will be in his fourth year driving for Foyt, setting a new record as he becomes the longest tenured full-time driver (aside from A.J.) in the history of the team. Prior to Sato’s arrival, that distinction was shared by Billy Boat, A.J. Foyt IV, and Vitor Meira with three years each. The association is the longest for Sato with any one team in both IndyCar and Formula 1 competition.

“It is an absolute honor to be continuously driving for AJ Foyt Racing,” Sato said. “I just appreciate that A.J. and Larry have given me such a fantastic opportunity to drive for this team. I have had great memories with the team and am very happy to add many more! Once again, I send a big thank you to everyone who has supported me to make this happen.”

Commenting on the 2015 season, Sato added, “I think it was very good first year. We probably couldn’t optimize as a two-car team immediately, but we certainly learned a lot. It is something you can’t build in a day, but we have been working on it and I am excited at what will come as a result of that work. Jack and I get on very well, that combination is always a positive. It will help in many areas and I feel it will only make us stronger.”

Hawksworth, who enters his third year of Verizon IndyCar Series competition and second with Foyt’s team, is optimistic about the coming season.

"I'm looking forward to staying with the ABC Supply team for another season in 2016!” said the 24-year-old Yorkshireman who lives close to the Waller-based race shop during the season.  “We obviously can't take any satisfaction in our performance last season and we know there is a large amount of work to be done if we are going to compete regularly with the top teams next season. It's clear though that the team is already making steps and I'm excited about what George Klotz can bring to the table in 2016. It's far too early to make any predictions but I'm optimistic that if we can have a strong winter program then we'll certainly put ourselves in a stronger position than this past season."

Klotz, 54, who had worked as a mechanic for the Foyt team in 1990-1991, returned to the team in October to serve as its Team Director. His responsibilities will be to oversee the operation of both cars, and introduce systems which will streamline operations and improve efficiency.

“I think they are so close to breaking out, and I think that is the feeling throughout the paddock,” said Klotz. “All of the elements are there, we just need to get everything aligned and I think I can help Larry with that. He’s done a great job to get the team to this point and I’m excited by the possibilities and the guys seem excited too.