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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.
A double rainbow opens the morning of Fast Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday May 15 2015. (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
AJ Foyt attends opening day for the Indianapolis 500 at IMS (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
AJ Foyt at IMS (Photo by: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon wins the 41st Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday April 19 2015. (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya celebrates winning the 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg with third-place finisher Tony Kanaan (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya celebrates winning the 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Start of the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power (left), driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6; and Tony Kanaan (right), driver of the #10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6; celebrate with Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, who raced to victory Sunday, March 29, 2015 winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. Power finished second. Kanaan finished third. Chevrolet took the top six places in the first race of the season. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, March 29, 2015 after winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, March 29, 2015 after winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, March 29, 2015 winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya wins the 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya wins the 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya wins the 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya wins the 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher)
Juan Pablo Montoya enters Turn 3 during the 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya and Will Power clash in the closing laps of the 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)

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arthur gruntfuttock - Unregistered

April 01, 2011 12:16 PM

What a man A.J.Foyt is. I cannot believe he was still racing with the top guys at that age. Tough as old boots and uncompromising which set him apart from the 'ordinary' guys running in racing. I think he probably raced the GT40 as well as anyone and that includes an illustrious list. Get well soon old fella!

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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