Jan 16, 2014, 3:57 PM EDT
One of the most important people in American auto racing history is celebrating a birthday today, as four-time Indianapolis 500 champion and current IndyCar Series team owner A.J. Foyt is turning 79 years old.
It’s very difficult to sum up how much “SuperTex” – also a former champion of NASCAR’s Daytona 500, the Rolex 24 at Daytona, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans – has meant to the sport over the years.
Rising from the dirt tracks of Houston, Texas in the 1950s, Foyt became famous the world over for his talent behind the wheel in many different racing disciplines. He also became, and still is, well-known for his toughness.
Foyt forged ahead with his driving career by overcoming many calamities, including a 1965 stock car crash at Riverside that left him so badly injured he was initially pronounced dead and a 1990 CART accident at Road America that ended with his shattered legs being dug out of a dirt embankment.
He’s also survived several off-track events post-career as well, such as being stung more than 200 times by Africanized killer bees on his Texas ranch in 2005 and a staph infection in 2012.
But even though he’s been through many trials and tribulations, Foyt has endured through it all to become a treasured figure on the American sports landscape.
“If I was reborn tomorrow, I wouldn’t change nothing,” Foyt told IndyCar.com in an interview last September. “I don’t think a lot of people could say that. I know what it’s like to be on the bottom. I know what it’s like to be on the top and I know what it’s like to be in the middle. I’ve been up that ladder like a yo-yo.
“I’m on the downhill run. Every day is like a new day with me.”
And we certainly hope today’s been a great day for A.J.
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