Foyt began Phoenix's Indy car legacy 52 years ago today

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As the Verizon IndyCar Series waits eagerly for its return to Phoenix International Raceway for the Phoenix Grand Prix on April 1-2, it takes on added meaning today. It was exactly 52 years ago that the legend himself, A.J. Foyt Jr., won the first race at the track.

A.J. FoytOn March 22, 1964, Foyt christened the new mile oval in the desert built exclusively for Indy cars by winning the Phoenix 100 with an average speed of 107.536 mph. He jumped pole sitter Roger McCluskey on the opening lap and led all 100 circuits to collect the 18th of what would become 67 career Indy car wins for Foyt – the most all time. It also started a string of seven straight wins by Foyt to open the season, another Indy car record. Foyt wound up winning 10 races in 1964 (yes, another record, equaled only by Al Unser in 1970) on the way to his fourth USAC championship in five years. (The photo above is actually from the November 1965 race Foyt won at Phoenix.)

A total of 61 Indy car races were conducted at the historic track over the next four decades. Foyt would win three more times to join a who's-who list of legends who enjoyed multiple victories. Al Unser is the leader with six PIR wins, followed by Gordon Johncock (five) and then Foyt, Mario Andretti, Johnny Rutherford and Bobby Unser (four each).

Following an 11-year hiatus, Indy car racing returns to the 1.022-mile oval for the Phoenix Grand Prix, but for the first time ever, the race will be 250 laps long. Grandstand tickets for race day April 2 range from $35-70 and include prerace pit access. Tickets for children are $10 and active-duty military members and veterans receive discounted pricing. General admission tickets for April 1 practice and qualifying are $20 for adults, $16 for active military and veterans and $5 for children.

Fans can purchase tickets online at PhoenixRaceway.com or by phone at (866) 408-7223.

Total race weekend coverage of Verizon IndyCar Series and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires competition from PIR is available through live streaming and NBCSN telecasts.

NBCSN will air the opening Verizon IndyCar Series practice session live from 1-2:15 p.m. ET April 1 and follow with live coverage of Verizon P1 Award qualifying from 5-6 p.m. ET the same day. The race telecast begins at 8:30 p.m. ET April 2 with the green flag expected at 9:15 p.m.

In addition, the final Verizon IndyCar Series practice, from 9:15-9:45 p.m. ET April 1, will be streamed live at racecontrol.indycar.com. All Indy Lights sessions, including the 90-lap race that starts at 4:25 p.m. ET April 2, will also be streamed live.

From the fans