AJ Foyt is a legend in the world of auto racing. The man they call Super Tex has won the Indianapolis 500 four times, the Daytona 500, 24 Hours of Daytona and the 24 hours of Le Mans.
However, Foyt has not has had quite as much success in recent years as a team owner. The team began in 1967 and he won two of his four Indy 500 victories under its banner. But they’ve not won the 500 or a series championship since the turn of the century.
Despite those issues, the 88-year-old Foyt could’ve never imagined the problem he ran into earlier this week.
A.J. Foyt Switches Team’s New Car Number To Avoid White Supremacist Ties
AJ Foyt racing recently announced that rookie driver Benjamin Pedersen would drive the No. 88 car alongside teammate Santino Ferrucci in the No. 14 in 2023.
But after revealing the new car, the team ran into some backlash.
A statement on changing our number from 88 to 55 for our second @TeamChevy entry. #INDYCAR pic.twitter.com/MXlz7WdEik
— AJ Foyt Racing (@AJFoytRacing) January 27, 2023
“After the reveal of the No. 88 livery last week, it was brought to our attention that the combination of our two individually entered numbers carries certain ideologic and symbolic references.
A.J. Foyt Racing does not condone nor support any such ideologies or symbols and to avoid any reprehensible associations we have changed the entry number from 88 to 55.” – A.J. Foyt Racing Statement
Nick Bromberg of Yahoo Sports further explained the changed.
1488 is recognized as a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League. The 14 is short for a 14-word slogan used by white supremacists and 88 is used as code for “Heil Hitler” as the letter H is the eighth word of the alphabet. – via Yahoo Sports
Not all fans were happy with the change.
Everything is stupid. This is pathetic. https://t.co/2Aox0lQPQ6
— ElbowsUp Billy (@SprintCarcast) January 28, 2023
IT'S ONLY A NUMBER???
This world… https://t.co/hru7nUVE7h
— ❤️🐱 𝕐𝕒𝔹𝕠𝕚𝔻𝕖𝕟𝕟𝕪 🐱❤️ #Rolex24 (@YaBoiDenny24) January 28, 2023
Yeah this is a weird one. A well intentioned number choice which has an unfortunate and fairly obscure connotation to white supremacy that really only terminally online 4Chan types actually understand or recognize. Understandable, but mostly think it's much ado about nothing. https://t.co/JTjJLi02qy
— David Land™❌ (@DLand91) January 27, 2023
Though others supported the change.
I’m really proud of AJ Foyt Racing for listening and understand the potential hurt that these numbers together could cause, even though that was not their intention.
These decisions are what move motorsport forward and make it an inclusive place for all. https://t.co/7tIUTifOmT
— kate (@RacingKate) January 27, 2023
For all the people saying "who cares it's not a big deal" why are you upset then? If it doesn't affect you that a team is making their cars no longer nazi-coded, then no biggie. https://t.co/qToioGzJ7Y
— New Year Same Tim (@NrdofAllTrades) January 27, 2023
Ultimately, the decision probably only registers on an extremely small scale. But given Ferrucci’s suspect past, it’s probably best for all if A.J. Foyt racing separates itself from anything remotely controversial.