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Foyt decides it's time to clean out garage Indianapolis 500 notes


INDIANAPOLIS -- It is going to be the garage sale of all garage sales.

A.J. Foyt announced yesterday that the general public will be allowed to get its hands on 35 years of his racing history, valued at an estimated $5 million.

Included in the lot is Foyt's 1977 Coyote Indy-winning car, complete with Foyt Engine, in running condition.

"All this stuff is in the horse barns down in Houston," Foyt said. "There's so much of it, I just can't keep it all up. It's just going to waste sitting there, and I hate to see that, so I might as well share it with some people who are going to appreciate it."

But Foyt isn't giving it away. It will be auctioned to the public at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Aug. 13, 14 and 15.

"This has nothing to do with retirement," he said. "I'm not going to say any more about that word until it's time. When I'm ready, I'll tell everyone. When I really say it, it'll be over."

Everyone thought Foyt, 57, said it last year, but it didn't hold. Now he says if he doesn't have any more injuries, he believes he could keep driving to age 62, when he can "draw a steady income from the government."

* Mario Andretti, Al Unser and Foyt, three of the over-50 gang in this race, voiced varying opinions about age.

"It's not my fault I'm getting old," Andretti said. "Some people age gracefully, others are miserable. But what can you do? I'm not ashamed of my age. I'm proud of it. . . . If people say I'm too old, it's not my fault. I'm 52, and that's it."

Foyt, 57, the oldest driver in the race, said his age and his 37 years here are a blessing.

BTC "You change over the years," he said. "When you're 20 years old, you couldn't wait to jump in the race car. Your heart pounds and the adrenalin flows and you simply can't wait. Now, after being here so long, you know what to look for, and you're more calm. You don't wash out like some race horses do before the race."

Unser, the 52-year-old father of Al Unser Jr., is more philosophical.

"If we took all ages away and no one knew how old you were, how old would you be?" Unser said. "Personally, I'm better and smarter than I've ever been."

* Eddie Cheever, in the middle of Row 1, and Michael Andretti on the outside of Row 2, are the consensus picks to win the 76th edition of the 500.

But keep an eye on Mario Andretti. He hasn't won here since 1969.

* Bobby Rahal has been credited with the four closest qualifying laps in speedway history. "The fact is that .006 of a second [Rahal's four lap difference] is closer than .01 [set by George Snider in 1971]," track historian Bob Laycock said.

Rahal averaged 224.158 mph for four laps to earn the inside starting position on the fourth row.

* Emerson Fittipaldi, a longtime friend of fellow Brazilian Nelson Piquet, said he was sure Piquet would try a comeback, despite the severe leg injuries suffered in a May 7 crash.

"I made a bet that he's going to be back in a racing car," Fittipaldi said. "And he told me that, even to take a picture, he doesn't sit anymore in a racing car. That's what he told me."

Fittipaldi spent a long time with his friend the last few days at Methodist Hospital, where Piquet is recovering from a series of ,, operations.

"He was much more enthusiastic last night," Fittipaldi said. "I think he's fully recovered mentally, psychologically."

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