[AJ Foyt Enterprises Press Release]
Veteran IndyCar driver and 2011 Indianapolis 500 Pole Winner Alex Tagliani will drive the Al-Fe Heat Treating Honda-powered Dallara for AJ Foyt Racing as the storied race team prepares for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500. Al-Fe Heat Treating marks its fifth year with AJ Foyt Racing which began with an associate sponsorship in 2011.
Adding to the lore will be the tribute to Dan Gurney and his No. 48 Eagle Indy car, an idea which started with team owner A.J. Foyt, who co-drove with Gurney to win the 24 Hours of LeMans in 1967.
“My good friend Dan Gurney used to run that number and he’s supposed to be back at Indy this year so I thought it would be a great way to honor him. And he had some good runs with that number!” said Foyt.
Designed by Ryan Westman, regional sales manager for Al-Fe Heat Treating, Inc., and artist Jason LaFrenais, the No. 48’s matte black and bright white livery evokes the paint scheme of Gurney’s No. 48 Eagle that he drove to second place in both the ‘68 and ’69 Indy 500s.
Gurney, who plans to attend the 500 for the first time since the 2011 Centennial Anniversary, is looking forward to seeing the No. 48 on track and meeting up with Foyt, with whom he co-drove to victory in the 24 Hours of LeMans in 1967. As a team owner, Gurney won the 1975 Indy 500 with Bobby Unser driving the No. 48 Jorgensen Eagle.
“I am deeply touched by my old friend and team mate A.J. Supertex Foyt to be honored in this way and I will be rooting for Alex Tagliani in “48” with a big smile on my face,” Gurney said.
Al-Fe Heat Treating began its association with the team when they signed as an associate sponsor of the No. 14 and No. 41 cars for the 2011 Indianapolis 500. Since that the race, they expanded their program every year with this year seeing Al-Fe Heat Treating become the primary sponsor on an Indy 500 entry.
“This year’s Indy 500 marks Al-Fe Heat Treating’s fifth year as an associate sponsor with A.J. Foyt Enterprises and what better way to celebrate that milestone than to sponsor Foyt’s third entry into the 99th running of the greatest spectacle in racing: the number 48 Al-Fe Heat Treating Special,” said Kurt Westman, Founder and CEO of Alfe Heat Treating.
“One of the most memorable times of my childhood was to attend the Indy 500 time trials and the race with my family,” Westman revealed. “My brother and I would spend hours standing at the fence line along Gasoline Alley trying to catch a glimpse (and photograph) of the cars and drivers–A.J. Foyt, Al Unser, Parnelli Jones, Mario Andretti, Dan Gurney to name a few.
“It’s almost impossible to explain the excitement and pride I feel in being able to be part of one of the most famous race teams in the world, and more so this year by sponsoring the A.J.’s No. 48 Al-Fe Heat Treating, Dan Gurney-tribute car driven by Alex Tagliani.
Westman, whose association with the Foyt team began in 2011 with the 100th Anniversary Indy 500, has expanded his company’s sponsorship from a single race to a season-long sponsorship of the two-car team.
“The Verizon IndyCar Series, and its great venues, presents our company a wonderful opportunity to develop business relationships, entertain customers and employees that share this common interest–and the Indy 500 is at the top of the list!” Westman said.
Driver Alex Tagliani returns to the IndyCar cockpit for the first time since last year’s Indy 500 where he qualified 24th and finished 13th for Sarah Fisher Racing. Tagliani, 41, has over 200 starts in IndyCar competition: 131 in the CART/Champ Car Series and 71 in the Verizon IndyCar Series to date. In his six starts in the Indy 500, he has finished in the top-13 four times with a best finish of 10th in 2010. He has started in the top-11 four times, including his pole winning run in 2011.
“I want to thank Al-Fe Heat Treating, Sexton Properties, ABC Supply, and everyone at Honda Racing and HPD for their hard work and support in making this opportunity happen,” said Tagliani. “I am really excited and honored to be part of the AJ Foyt Racing organization because driving for A.J. at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is something really, really special. Having the chance to contribute to the Foyt family legacy at the Speedway is my mission for the month of May.
“I am thrilled to be part of honoring Dan Gurney by driving a car in his livery. Bringing the Gurney Eagle’s vintage look to the new Honda Aero kit car is for sure going to be a crowd pleaser. As a new dad, sharing this unique tribute with my family and the Foyt Family is very special. Taking the Dan Gurney No. 48 Al-Fe Heat Treating machine to Indy’s victory circle would be awesome, and we’re aiming to do just that.”
In addition to the No. 48, Foyt will field his regular entries the No. 14 and No. 41 ABC Supply Hondas driven by Takuma Sato and Jack Hawksworth in this year’s month of May contest. It will be the first time that AJ Foyt Racing has fielded three cars in the Indianapolis 500 since 2005, when Larry Foyt was still driving.
“Dad has a long tradition of adding extra cars at the speedway, and although we hadn’t originally planned on it, when the opportunity came, it made good sense,” said Larry Foyt, President of AJ Foyt Racing. “It was important to have a driver with the ability and experience of Alex, so adding him to our lineup is a great fit. I’m looking forward to see this special livery racing alongside our ABC Supply machines. Al-Fe Heat Treating and the Westmans have been wonderful associates—and friends–of the team, and I’d like to thank them for making this third entry a possibility.”
Tagliani will take his first laps in the Al-Fe Heat Treating Honda on Monday, May 11 when the track opens for its first full day of practice for the Verizon IndyCar Series. Qualifying takes place the following weekend May 16-17. The Indy 500 will be broadcast live on Sunday, May 24 by ABC-TV. The pre-race broadcast starts at 11 a.m. ET.