WATKINS GLEN, New York – When adversity hits and things get tough, close families like the Verizon IndyCar Series always pull together.
That's why the #Race4Houston campaign started by AJ Foyt Racing and INDYCAR as a small way to help the city in the wake of Hurricane Harvey continues to gain momentum in the paddock, something Larry Foyt acknowledged on Saturday.
“A big thank you to INDYCAR,” said the president of A.J. Foyt Enterprises, whose primary shop is in suburban Houston.
“With our team, we have a little bit of reach, but when INDYCAR jumped on board with us, helped us really push it and helped us with the T-shirt campaign, it reaches a whole new group of INDYCAR fans and racing fans,” Foyt added. “Just really appreciative of their efforts.”
The Verizon IndyCar Series team, founded by the four-time Indianapolis 500 champion and Houston native A.J. Foyt, and INDYCAR began selling limited-edition “Race4Houston” T-shirts on Thursday. All proceeds benefit the Greater Houston Community Foundation (ghcf.org), which aids flood relief in the Houston area. The T-shirts can be ordered online for $28 at http://shop.ims.com/2017-race-4-houston-tee/. Some are also being sold at the INDYCAR merchandise tent at this weekend’s INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen.
After Foyt Racing announced it would run special “Race4Houston” decals on its cars driven by Conor Daly and Carlos Munoz to honor the victims and encourage donations to the effort, several other teams picked up the cause and the stickers have now become ubiquitous up and down pit lane.
“Just great to see all the teams really, because sometimes when you're away from it, you're not affected, it can take a backseat,” said Larry Foyt.
“Everybody has been so supportive. It was really cool that last practice session (Saturday morning). I was watching cars drive by on pit road, seeing the big decals, really pushing the campaign. Really thankful for that. Hopefully we can raise some money.”
Verizon IndyCar series drivers James Hinchcliffe and Graham Rahal also pledged on Twitter to donate race winnings to the relief fund.
I'm with you, @MarioAndretti. Will donate my portion of prize money from @WGI and @RaceSonoma to @RedCross. https://t.co/SmRJazPzkH
On behalf of @courtneyforce & I, we will donate all of my prize money from @WGI this weekend to #Race4Houston. https://t.co/KWzBIqRX8m
While most eyes were on Texas and Louisiana for the storm damage, Nashville native Josef Newgarden (No. 2 DeVilbiss Team Penske Chevrolet) expressed concern for his hometown also hit by heavy rain and some flooding on Thursday as Harvey moved north through Tennessee. Although his parents live in Nashville, they were in Watkins Glen for the INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen when the storm hit.
“It's difficult for everyone but there are a lot of charities going around. That's what we do in America, we help people and, when push comes to shove, that's what you have to do.”
“Foyt is doing a really cool thing for people within the (Verizon) IndyCar Series who want to donate to the Houston relief.”
Foyt said that only one team employee suffered some damage due to Harvey, but the individual works in the shop and was at home to deal with it. Most of the team was in Madison, Illinois, for last week's Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline at Gateway Motorsports Park when the hurricane first reached land. A.J. and Larry could not get home to Houston after the storm hit.
“Even if we could have flown to a surrounding city, there was no way to get to either my house or A.J.'s home. We knew my mom was OK and my wife was OK,” Larry Foyt said.
“It was just a really helpless feeling to not be able to go home and having to watch all the images on TV of all the people. We just wanted to try to help any way we could, even though we couldn't be at home.”