Hildebrand Joins Foyt For Indianapolis 500 Attempt

Car To Honor Foyt's 1961 Indy Win

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J.R. Hildebrand has joined A.J. Foyt Racing for the Indianapolis 500. (IndyCar Photo)
J.R. Hildebrand has joined A.J. Foyt Racing for the Indianapolis 500. (IndyCar Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS – J.R. Hildebrand is teaming up with the legendary A.J. Foyt to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Foyt’s first Indianapolis 500 victory as the fourth entry for Foyt’s team in the 105th Indianapolis 500.

Foyt earned the first of his record four Indianapolis 500 wins in 1961. To honor Foyt’s achievement, Hildebrand’s No. 1 Chevrolet will be sponsored by Foyt’s longtime partner, ABC Supply.

As a tribute to Foyt’s feat, the car will sport a throwback livery of the No. 1 Bowes Seal Fast Offenhauser Roadster that Foyt drove in 1961. The car’s candy apple red nose will be trimmed with black stripes over a primarily white body. Further echoing the vintage livery, a large red No. 1 will emblazon the rear of the engine cover in addition to the normal positions on the nose and rear wing.

“At my age, I don’t get too excited anymore, but I’m thrilled to see this car painted like my ’61 car,” said the 86-year-old AJ Foyt. “That win was so special because it was my dream just to be good enough to make the race.  To win it three years later, well I was thrilled to death about it. They were all sweet victories but to win that first one after where I came from, it was unbelievable.

“Having ABC Supply sponsor this car is fantastic. They were awful good to us as our main sponsor for 15 years and they came back for the 500 last year when things were pretty tough. Well, that just shows what type of company they are. We’ve been great friends and we’ll remain that way.”

Foyt was the defending USAC National champion when he battled Eddie Sachs in the 50th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 in 1961, carrying the traditional No. 1.

The No. 1 belongs to PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing as the reigning champion with Scott Dixon, but as a courtesy, Ganassi released the number to Foyt’s team for the Indianapolis 500. Dixon and Ganassi continue to carry the team’s No. 9 on their Indy car.

“This livery is more than just a throwback for us,” A.J. Foyt Racing President Larry Foyt said. “It is special to our team and family, and its imagery is something I have grown up seeing my whole life. It is wonderful that our longtime friends and partner ABC Supply will be the primary sponsor on this tribute to one of my Dad’s great accomplishments.

The car J.R. Hildebrand will drive during the Indianapolis 500 honors A.J. Foyt's 1961 Indianapolis 500 victory.
The car J.R. Hildebrand will drive during the Indianapolis 500 honors A.J. Foyt’s 1961 Indianapolis 500 victory.

“Being able to sign a quality driver like J.R. will add another source of valuable feedback to our team which is especially important given the talent-packed Indy 500 entry list this year.”

Despite running only three full seasons in the NTT IndyCar Series, Hildebrand has qualified for the past 10 Indianapolis 500s, an impressive resume which led Foyt to hire him.

“This is definitely a drive to be excited about, and for multiple reasons,” said the 33-year-old Hildebrand. “Getting the chance to drive for A.J. and Larry is something I’m looking forward to no matter what, but with ABC honoring the 60th anniversary of A.J.’s first 500 win that makes it extra special. I’ll be back in a Chevy which I’ve spent almost my entire IndyCar career driving, gain the benefit of three teammates, and get the chance to reunite, in a way, with an engineer I’ve had success with before in Justin Taylor, who’s race-engineering Seb (Bourdais) this year. We all know that the 500 is only getting more competitive so we’ll all have to bring our best to the table, but that, to me, is what makes this race so worthwhile in the first place. I can’t wait to get rolling.”

Hildebrand scored his best finish Indianapolis 500 finish, second, as a rookie in 2011. It was a bittersweet finish for the then 23-year-old who had taken the lead with two laps to go. Passing a slower car, he pushed high and crashed into the outside wall coming out of turn four. That slowed him enough to allow Dan Wheldon to win the race.

In 10 starts, Hildebrand has qualified in the top-10 four times and posted four top-10 finishes.

Carrying the theme further, Hildebrand will wear a solid white uniform, the same color Foyt wore, but unlike Foyt’s uniform, Hildebrand’s uniform will feature many more marketing partners which made the fourth entry viable.

“The fact that I’ll be running a livery honoring A.J.’s first win 60 years ago is just an incredible thing to be a part of,” said Hildebrand. “I’ve tried to bring a little history into at least some element of my 500 gigs over the last few years – in ’18 we ran a 66 that was designed based on the car Jim Clark ran his lone NASCAR start with, in ’19 we ran Dan Gurney’s 48, and last year we designed the 67 on our car from the numbers that were on Joe Leonard and Graham Hill’s 1968 turbine cars – but this definitely takes it to a whole new level, and driving for the man himself. The history of the sport is such an important part of what gives it meaning, and I’ll look to feed off of that energy this May.”

The ABC Supply crew will also wear uniforms modeled after the 1961 crew headed by legendary chief mechanic George Bignotti, who won his first of a record seven Indianapolis 500s with Foyt. With collars trimmed in black and featuring a black pocket, the crew shirts and firesuits will echo the Bignotti crew’s teamwear. Conceding to practicality, the crew will wear black pants instead of white.

“ABC Supply is excited for the opportunity to support AJ Foyt Racing by sponsoring the No. 1 car for the Indy 500,” said Mike Jost, COO of ABC Supply.  “A.J. is a living legend and part of the ABC family, and our 15,000 associates are honored to help celebrate the 60thanniversary of his first of four Indy 500 wins as a driver.”

Practice for the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge begins Tuesday, May 18 with qualifying set for May 22-23. The Indy 500 will be broadcast live on NBC starting at 11 a.m. ET.