During the spring of my freshman year in high school I was given an assignment to read a biography. The only guideline was it could not be Anne Frank as we had read that the previous year. I had no clue who I wanted to read about and only a limited selection in our school library. I pulled a book off the shelf and returned it a couple times before finally deciding to just read it. The book was A.J. Foyt’s. I really enjoyed reading it. I am sure we had to write a report or do some sort of assignment but I don’t remember that part. I finished the book and returned it to the library.
A month or two passed and one Sunday afternoon I sat down next to my dad on the sofa and asked, “What are you watching?” My dad replied, “The Indy 500”. I began telling him about the book I had read and how much I enjoyed it. Then my dad said, “Yeah, AJ is not doing too well today”. I about fell off the sofa. I had no clue he was still racing. I was a young teenage girl, it never occured to me that I might be able to watch AJ race and perhaps even win a fifth 500.
As I sat and watched with my dad I heard names like Andretti, Unser, Parsons and Rutherford and I realized I knew these guys. I had read about them and now I was watching them race. I honestly don’t remember if I watched the race to the end. I definitely don’t remember watching Danny Sullivan spin and win. I was a young girl and while I had my first taste of Indy it would be a few more years until I realized just how special the 500 truly is.
As we know now, AJ did not win a fifth 500 but I was able to watch him attempt it for a couple more years. My first trip to the speedway was on Pole Day 1993. I watched as AJ announced his retirement and then took his final lap around the speedway. I will never forget that day. It was my only time I went to the speedway with my dad when cars were on the track and the only time I would see AJ drive.