By Kellyanne Lynch
12 May 2004
Beta-Reader: Colleen Lynch
Disclaimer: While this fanfiction is based on a few real-life events, it is still a work of fiction. I took the liberty of making up a whole slew of things, as you will see in this fic. This is for entertainment purposes only. All characters in this story are real-life people, and each belongs to him or herself.
Summary: Larry Foyt has always dreamed of racing in the Indy 500. Will his dream come true this year?
Dedication: To all Larry Foyt fans, especially the ones on his NASCAR.com message board. Y’all are a devoted bunch, and Larry’s lucky to have each of you as his fan!
* Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with questions, comments, theories, complaints, or words of wisdom.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 26 April 2004
The green and white Conseco Toyota sat at the edge of pit road. The driver inside closed his eyes, inhaling deep breaths that pierced his stomach. Swallowing hard, he opened his eyes, and squinted at the steam that had formed along the inside of his face shield. He reached his hand beneath the shield, and wiped the pads of his black-gloved fingers across the surface. His vision regained, he lowered his palm onto the steering wheel. Both hands gripped the hard plastic. He tightened his fingers until it felt like his bones were bare across the wheel. The driver pursed his lips together beneath his silver helmet, before running his tongue along his teeth.
His in-car radio buzzed. “Grandpa says ‘go’, Uncle Larry,” instructed a tinny voice.
Larry Foyt jolted inside the hot rod, his back stiffening. Pressing his thumb into a button on the steering wheel, he breathed, “Ten-four”.
He pulsed his eyes shut, and pressed his foot into the gas. The Toyota rolled off pit road. As Larry eased his sneaker deeper into the accelerator, the vehicle picked up speed. It shot off Turn 2, and both car and driver soared along the backstretch of Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Images of his past with the track flashed through Larry’s mind as his sights remained focus on the concrete before him. His father’s strong, warm arms had carried him along its pit road, and had lowered him beside tree-trunk legs.
“Now you stay here, Larry,” A.J.’s voice had lilted down to the toddler. “You stay with your Mama, and stay out of mischief, boy.”
As Larry eased off the throttle and slid into Turn 3, he recalled his mother’s firm grasp on his shoulders as A.J. had climbed into his open wheels entry. The racer had nodded toward the boy – his eyes smiling – before the hot rod had shuttled off pit road. Larry’s eyes widened as he slid into Turn 4, just as they had widened twenty-five years ago when his father had taken to the track to qualify for the Indy 500 – just as Larry hoped to be doing at the end of next month.
“Boy,” the stern voice crackled over the radio, “How’s the car handling?”
Larry reached for the call button as he ripped onto the front stretch. “Car’s handling fine,” he responded. He tapped the brake entering Turn 1, and slid through the corners. His thumb returned to the button. “A little tight getting into the turns…”
“You’re running the NASCAR groove!” A.J. barked over the radio. “This is Indy, Larry! Find your line!”
Larry swallowed hard. “Y-yes, sir,” he stammered. The Conseco Indy car slid half a groove up the track along the back straightaway. Pressing his lips together, Larry hoped he was remembering the line correctly. Nearly three years had passed since the last time he’d run it.
His eyes darted toward the infield for a split second before he lifted off the throttle and entered Turn 3. As a young boy, he had plowed his bright red Schwin through that grass.
“Larry Foyt wins the Indy 500!” he had exclaimed as he’d shot across one of his mother’s white hair ribbons, which he’d lain across the grass. Flinging his arms over his head, he’d cried, “And the crowd goes wild!”
The front wheel of the bicycle had hit a rock, sending the seven-year-old boy flying over the handle bars. The bike had clattered to the ground. Larry had landed with an “oomph!” in the dust, his bottom sore and his tear-ridden eyes gazing at the woman standing over him.
“Larry, sweetie, be careful!” Lucy Foyt had pleaded, extending open arms to the little boy. Larry had raised a filthy fist to his left eye, and had reached for his mother with the other hand. She’d swept her child into her embrace, rubbing his back and rocking him in her arms. “It’s okay,” she cooed. “It’s okay.”
Larry came off the corner, and rocketted onto the front stretch. He remembered looking Lucy in the eye at age seven, and stating, “Mama, I want to be a race car driver when I grow up.”
Lucy had sighed. “Maybe someday,” she’d grimaced, tousling her son’s dark brown hair. “But for right now, you’re my little boy, okay?”
“I’m still your little boy,” Larry chuckled inside his helmet. He let his right foot off the accelerator, and pressed the ball of his left foot into the brake. The Toyota eased through Turns 1 and 2, and thundered down the backstretch. He knew it in his backside that his speeds were picking up, lap after lap. Wind rushed over the contours of the Indy car, over the racer’s head and shoulders, and across the back of the hot rod. Heartbeats pulsed through his chest, arms, and hands. He could feel the speed and his pulse thumping through his knuckles. A grin swept across Larry’s lips, the same grin he’d seen on his father countless times at this track.
That smirk had been on A.J.’s face while qualifying for the 1991 Indy 500. Larry had caught sight of it when his father came off Turn 4, and he’d known the #14 was headed to the top of the scoring pylon before the number lit up second. The white bulbs that formed the #14 had gleamed in Larry’s eyes, the teenager beaming. He’d broken into a run down pit road, his sights fixed on his father’s race car. The hot rod had beaten the boy to the garage area. Leaning over his legs, Larry had pressed his hands into his jeans as he’d panted. He’d looked up just as his father was pulling off his helmet. A.J.’s grin had brought a smile to the boy’s lips.
“Dad, you’re on the front row!” Larry had exclaimed, beaming at his father. “I want to be on the front row with you! I want to start racing right now, and be in the next Indy 500!”
Wiping the sweat from his brow, A.J. had narrowed his sights on the boy from within the car. “School comes first,” he’d stated, and then had lifted himself from the seat.
The crew had scurried around the hot rod, preparing it for the next day’s race, but Larry could only remember their clanging wrenches and buzzing power tools in the backdrop. A.J. had stood in the foreground, his eyes fixed on his son’s.
“But I’m done eighth grade!” Larry had protested. “I know enough!”
Furrowing his brow, A.J. had crossed his massive arms. “You’re going to college…”
“But you didn’t even finish high school…”
“Boy!” A.J. had growled, the boy leaping in his skin. “You’d better be listening! School comes first! You learn, and then maybe you can race! There’re no shortcuts under my roof, you hear?”
Gulping, Larry had lowered his head and had stared at his sneakers. “Yes, sir,” he’d whispered, his lower lip quivering.
Inside the Toyota, Larry swallowed the knot in his throat and roared onto the front stretch. There’re no shortcuts under my roof, he heard the voice from ages past echo in his head. You hear?
Larry licked his lips, and nodded to himself inside the hot rod. Gritting his teeth, he skittered through Turn 1 with as little brake as possible. He held a breath in the pit of his gut, and grinded his molars into each other. The Toyota skated toward the wall off the second corner, but held to the groove. The car shot off Turn 2, the force catapulting Larry across the back straightaway. He’d barely blinked by the time he was letting off the gas for Turn 3, and rounding the final two corners before hitting the stripe.
The in-car radio crackled in the driver’s ear.
“Bring ‘er in.”
Larry cringed. His foot lifted off the gas like the pedal was on fire, and the car decelerated. The Conseco Toyota inched along the backstretch. Over half a minute passed before Larry crawled onto pit road. He eased the car to a halt in front of the Conseco pit box, and raised his hands to his head. Panting echoed in his ears; he could not remove the helmet fast enough.
When he lowered his arms, Larry’s sights locked onto A.J.’s piercing gaze. They shifted to his nephew, Anthony, but his father’s stare had a tractor beam pull on the young racer’s eyes. A cold sweat blanketed Larry’s body. He wiped his hand over his nose and mouth, and squeezed his eyes shut as he pinched the bridge of his nose. The thumb and forefinger rubbed at the bridge, while Larry stared into the crimson expanse beneath his eyelids. He lowered his hand, opened his eyes, and found A.J. still staring at him. Larry held his breath.
A.J. furrowed his brow. “215.175,” he grumbled.
Larry quivered, and folded his arms across his chest to stop them from shaking. He cleared his throat. Raising an eyebrow, he asked, “Is that, is that good?”
A.J. pressed his lips together, his mouth forming a straight line across his jaw. “You’re still riding that NASCAR line, Larry,” he sighed. “You’re still thinking like a stock car driver. I just…” his voice trailed off.
Larry’s stomach dropped. His tongue clung to the roof of his mouth. Clearing his throat ripped it free. Tears formed at the corner of his eyes. Larry blinked hard, and stared up into the sky. He gulped back his emotions.
“Larry, you know I told you that you needed to earn this ride.” His father’s voice sounded miles away. “You know that I've already had someone else in mind for next month, and you needed to prove that you were better to take his place.”
Swallowing again, Larry nodded. He stared down at his New Balance sneakers.
“I’m not just handing you a free ride. You’ve earned it.”
Larry’s eyes lit up. Raising his sights, he caught A.J.’s smirk.
"It's you're responsibility to talk to John Andretti," his father adviced. "He'll help you with getting out of that NASCAR groove."
The racing legend patted his son’s shoulder.
“Congratulations, boy," A.J. boomed. "You just earned a chance to qualify for the Indy 500! That was one hell of a lap!”
Larry looked to Anthony. One look at the eighteen-year-old’s bright eyes brought out the teeth in Larry’s smile. The teenager scurried to his uncle’s side, and threw his arms around the older man. Anthony’s palms thumped Larry’s back twice before the boy broke from the embrace. Clutching Larry’s biceps, he exclaimed, “We’re going to be teammates!”
Larry smiled at his nephew, and glanced over the boy's shoulder at his father. A.J. crossed his arms over his chest, and beamed. Larry had to bite his lower lip to keep himself from shouting the thought that screamed through his mind. I’m going to race in the Indy 500!
So what did you think? Please email me with your comments! = D