SI Vault
William Nack
September 30, 1991
As his unparalleled career winds down, A.J. Foyt still looks for fulfillment
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September 30, 1991

Twilight Of A Titan

As his unparalleled career winds down, A.J. Foyt still looks for fulfillment

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Tony arrived at the station house with a face of stone. He listened as the officer explained that they were not filing charges against A.J., and they were going to release him. "He's a good boy," the officer said. "Even though he lied to you."

Tony glanced over at his frozen son. "That's right," Tony said. "He lied to me."

A.J. began to say his prayers and the police answered. They were releasing him, they told Tony, on one condition: "That you will not lay a hand on him."

The old man thought about that a moment but finally agreed. Recalls A.J.: "I thought, 'Thank you, Lord!' We got in his car. I can still remember it. '49 Mercury, metallic-green convertible with a Cadillac motor. I got in the right side. I thought, 'Any minute, I'm going to spit all my teeth out. He's going to bust me upside my head.' " Tony never laid a hand on his son. What he did, if you were 16 years old and you loved cars, was worse.

"You know that car you've got?" Tony said.


"It's going to sit in the driveway for one year."


"Shut up! One year. Every day after school, you catch that bus and be at my shop at 3:30."

And there the Ford stayed, idle in the driveway while the old man worked to pay it off, and nothing could persuade him to reduce the sentence. Tony Foyt was old school, a quiet, strong, stubborn Texan who brooked no nonsense and catered no small talk. Says Tim Delrose, a longtime family friend, "If Tony said something and A.J. asked him, 'What did you say?' Tony would say, 'You heard me.' " The old man worked obsessively. One evening he was laying a septic field at the ranch. A.J.'s crew had the cars all set to drive to a race up in Bryan, Texas. They were getting anxious. Tony wouldn't be rushed.

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