For the first half of its hundred-year history, the Indianapolis 500 was won in front-engined “specials.” By now, of course, they’re all mid/rear-engined. So when did they change? When Lotus got involved in the mid-1960s with cars like this one here.
What you’re looking at, race fans, is a 1964 Lotus Type 34 – specifically the one in which the legendary AJ Foyt took pole position at the Brickyard in 1965, setting a new record at 161.233 miles per hour. And it’s coming up for auction.
Voted by fans as the greatest Indy driver of all time, AJ Foyt remains one of the most accomplished racers in American history. Over the course of his distinguished career, he won the Indy 500 four times, along with the Daytona 500, the 24 Hours of Daytona, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. With all four of the cars in which Foyt won the Indy 500 on permanent display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, this could be the most prominent of his cars ever to come up for auction.
Jim Clark, Dan Gurney, and Parnelli Jones drove it as well (most in testing), but there’s more to this Lotus than who drove it, though. It was part of a technological revolution that shook up American open-wheel racing for good. It started when Gurney – one of the first American drivers to make it on the international (read: European) circuit – invited Colin Chapman to observe the Indy 500 in 1962, hoping the Lotus founder would bring the technological prowess he’d displayed in F1 to America. Ford engineer and executive Donald Frey (one of the fathers of the Mustang) was at the race that year as well, looking for a way to get the company involved, and a deal was formed that brought Lotus and Ford together to tackle the race.
’65 would prove the year when their combined efforts yielded the most fruit. Foyt won five races in the USAC Championship, coming second in the standings to Mario Andretti. He took that record pole at Indy and lead much of the race, only to be forced out with gearbox trouble. Clark won the race – in another Lotus, the newer Type 38. It would be the only win Lotus would take at Indy after revolutionizing the format.
Foyt kept the car for decades, selling it in 1992 to its current owner. Now it’s bound for the auction block at the Quail Lodge a little over a week from now, when Bonhams (which provided all the photos in the gallery below) expects it will sell for a good $2 million.