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AJ Foyt on the mend after heart op

Team owner AJ Foyt wasn't able to attend the IndyCar season opener at St Petersburg - because he was recovering from emergency heart surgery.
The familiar figure of motorsports legend AJ Foyt was missing from pit road at St Petersburg, and everyone - friend and rival alike - was thinking of him and wishing him well as he underwent an emergency medical procedure on his heart last Friday for a serious blockage.

In the end it turned out well for Foyt, with a completely successful outcome of the procedure - and then his driver Vitor Meira in the #14 ABC Supply car survived the St Pete crashfest to hand the team an eighth place finish in the season opener after the team's racing director, Foyt's son Larry, took over calling the shots at St Petersburg.

76-year-old Foyt had been taking his wife Lucy to the hospital for a check-up the previous week when doctors pounced on him while he was there to carry out some long-deferred tests. That led to the discovery that he had a 95% blockage below previously inserted stents (mesh tubes used to open up blocked arteries in a procedure called angioplasty.)

"After the angiogram on the following Monday, my cardiologist told me I was lucky to be alive!" Foyt has written in a special feature for the USA Today newspaper. "Hell, I didn't know it was going to be that bad or I might have hung out with Lucy that weekend!" Instead, he'd spent the previous few days trying to get through as much of the team's pre-season preparations as he could in case he was sidelined.

In fact the blockage was "more like 99% and the blood was just trickling through", doctors found during the procedure at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital in Houston on Friday. But the surgeons were able to avoid open-heart surgery and instead put in a new stent - while Foyt himself was conscious and watching progress relayed by television cameras onto a screen.

"They had a full surgical team on board with the surgeon who did my wife Lucy's triple bypass, prepared [in case] the stent didn't work. Their challenge was that they had to go through several stents first to get to the blockage and then get the artery opened enough to take the stent.

"After what seemed an awful long time, my doctor stepped back and said 'We got it AJ' - I can't tell you how happy and relieved I was. I think he was too."

Foyt was discharged after spending the weekend in hospital - where he watched the race live on television - with strict orders to "take it easy for the next three or four days."

"That's why I wasn't at [St Pete]. My son Larry was in charge and he and my ABC Supply team did a good job without me - although I did make a few phone calls!"




Related Pictures

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Indy Racing League. 20-21 June 2009. Iowa Corn 250.  Iowa Speedway. Newton, Iowa USA. A.J. Foyt and Ryan Hunter-Rey.
Takuma Sato, AJ Foyt, Larry Foyt, and the A.J. Foyt Enterprises team with the Verizon P1 Award (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Takuma Sato and AJ Foyt with the Verizon P1 Award flag for their pole for Race 2 of the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Sponsor Brantley Gilbert and Indy Lights champion Sage Karam prior to restarting Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
AJ Foyt (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, March 30, 2014 during the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6 finished third. (Photo by LAT/ Russell LaBounty for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, March 30, 2014 during the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6 finished third. (Photo by LAT/ Russell LaBounty for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, March 30, 2014 during the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6 finished third. (Photo by LAT/ Russell LaBounty for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, March 30, 2014 during the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6 finished third. (Photo by LAT/ Michael L. Levitt for Chevy Racing)
Chevrolet engine cowling showing the logo of the Verizon IndyCar Series. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Banner showing the logo of the Verizon IndyCar Series. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Power and Helio astroneves celebrate on the podium. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Power and Helio astroneves celebrate on the podium. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Jack Hawksworth and Marco Andretti crash during a restart attempt. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Start of the race. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Start of the race. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates with the Penske team. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay celebrates (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)

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B-Dawg - Unregistered

April 01, 2011 7:08 PM

Get well soon, AJ!! I just have to make a correction... AJ didn't fail to qualify at Indy in 1993 or any other year. If I remember right, he was running some laps, and then made a slow lap and made the retirement announcement.

Maxx - Unregistered

April 01, 2011 5:45 PM

Nothing is gonna kill that tough old bastard. He was almost crushed to death when he rolled a Caterpiller bulldozer into a lake a couple years ago. If AJ says double file restarts are good that's all anybody should need to hear. Even though it may cost him a car, or two. How refreshing it would be to see more drivers like him again. He'll drive anything anywhere and be competitive. He will also live wuth the rules that are writen. After the Indy race, most of the drivers were whining like babies about the new rules on restarts. You're supposed to be professionals, act like one.



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