Good things happening at A.J. Foyt Racing
Larry Foyt manages his family’s A.J. Foyt Racing team – Anne Proffit photo
While the news that Larry Foyt-managed A.J. Foyt Racing is retaining Takuma Sato and Jack Hawksworth for its 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series campaign, the team’s engineering staff is bulking up to move this short-and-tall duo forward in the toughly competitive landscape that is Indy car racing.
Both Sato and Hawksworth have Honda pedigrees and add strength to the Japanese manufacturer’s lineup.
Although the young, lanky Brit hasn’t gotten to visit the top step of a series podium – yet – Hawksworth has the will and talent to compete amongst the best of the emerging talent that’s beginning to permeate this series. Hawksworth has shown flashes of brilliance in his two years driving Indy cars but working with two very disparate teams, he needs the safety net of being with the same group for his third overall season and second driving an ABC Supply, red, white and blue Honda machine.
“I’m looking forward to staying with the ABC Supply team for another season,” Hawksworth acknowledged. The 24-year-old, who moved close to the Waller, Texas-based race shop during the 2015 season recognizes, “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.”
Sato, of course has taken a single victory and now begins a fourth tour of duty with the Houston-based squad. When the Japanese driver won in Long Beach two years ago, it was a break-through that wanted to signal Sato’s emergence. Teething pains with Honda’s 2015 aero kit pretty much bogged that ascension down, as it did for just about everyone in the Honda camp.
The former F1 driver thought the first year of the team’s two-car squad was good. “We probably couldn’t optimize as a two-car team immediately, but we certainly learned a lot. It’s something you can’t build in a day, but we have been working on it and I’m excited at what will come as a result of that work. Jack and I get on dry well; that combination is always a positive.”
A.J. Foyt Racing has sen working hard to elevate its engineering corps, hiring the esteemed George Klotz as its team director. Klotz returns to Houston from Andretti Autosport, where he appeared to work with every single driver that’s come through that large, evolving squad; he was there from 2000. He was a mechanic on the Foyt team in 1990-1991 as he learned his craft; the 54-year-old rejoined the team in October and will oversee the operations of both cars, introduce systems that will streamline Foyt Racing operations and improve their overall efficiency.
“I think we are so close to breaking out, and I think that is the feeling throughout the paddock,” Klotz declared. “All of the elements are here; we just need to get everything aligned and I think I can help Larry [Foyt] with that. He’s done a great job to get the team to this point, and I’m excited by the possibilities. The guys seem excited too.” Returning 25 years after he left, Klotz likes the culture that’s breeding at Foyt’s shop. “I know the feeling that surrounds this and I’m glad to see it’s still here. I’ve always had a place for A.J. in my heart and I think that’s what makes this team different – I think everyone who works for him does too.”
Additionally, Don Halliday has climbed from the crew chief stand to serve the team as technical director, overseeing race engineers on both cars. The Kiwi has been with Foyt’s team since the new Dallara DW12 chassis made its debut in 2012, ending a seven-year hiatus from the sport. Always fascinated by design and engineering, Halliday is looking forward to continuing to move the two-car Foyt team ahead and working with Klotz. His resume includes stints in F1, F3000 and with CART, Champ Car and the Indy Racing League. His design capabilities – as shown with Truesports – brought him to the attention of A.J. Foyt Racing.
By Anne Proffit