IndyCar team changes car’s number to avoid “reprehensible associations”


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IndyCar team Foyt has changed the number that one of its cars will use this year due to “ideologic and symbolic references”.

The team announced last week its driver Benjamin Pedersen had chosen to use the number 88 for his rookie campaign in the series this year. However Foyt advised media today it will replace the number due to the connotations around it.

“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,” said the team in a statement.

“AJ 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.”

While the team has not specified the nature of its concerns, they are likely to relate to the number’s associations within American neo-Nazi movements, particularly when combined with the number 14. The team has long used that number, which its founder AJ Foyt had on his car when he scored the last two of his four Indianapolis 500 wins, in 1967 and 1977.

The Foyt team originally made light of Pedersen’s choice of number, announcing: “AJ Foyt will be reminded of just how old he is every time Benjamin Pedersen takes to the track this year as the racing legend turned 88 which is the number the Danish-American driver chose to run in his rookie campaign.”

Foyt confirmed Pedersen will now use number 55 instead. His team mate Santino Ferrucci was previously entered in their number 14 car.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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73 comments on “IndyCar team changes car’s number to avoid “reprehensible associations””

  1. Great move, because F1 had Alonso, Haryanto and Kubica – well known triumvirate of neo-Nazis.

  2. Proesterchen_nli
    27th January 2023, 21:35

    Numbers are numbers until you crudely tattoo them onto people to keep track of who you haven’t murdered… yet.

    1. But they are still just numbers in every way, including in that one particular, unique context.

    2. Huh? This is a race car!

  3. Now “55” looks like “SS”.

    1. Hail-larious

    2. The longest entirely 1337ifiable (only numbers and special characters) Counter-strike nickname of mine, what I have been capable of contriving was something like 26 characters long with standard alphabet and a bit longer after leetification. That filled the max allowed 31 chars for a nick, so I was pretty proud of myself. As it is a non-English, and as it is from a fairly rude part of a (non-88-related) punk song, I do not provide it :D

    3. proud_asturian
      28th January 2023, 23:39

      “Slava Stalin?” When will the extremist numbering end?

  4. I can see why they might change it. From

    The numbers 14 and 88, used in various combinations, are a code used by neo-Nazis and white supremacists to broadcast hate speech in a covert manner and to show their alliance with others in their movement. The number 14 refers to David Lane, a notorious white supremacist leader and murderer, who at one point issued the 14-word statement: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” Lane, who was incarcerated for various crimes including the assassination of a Jewish radio host, wrote his infamous words in 1985 while in prison (he ultimately died in prison in 2007). The number 88 refers to the fact that H is the eighth letter of the alphabet, so 88 is HH. This stands for “Heil Hitler,” part of the historic Nazi salute. Essentially, 1488 is a callback to these two figures and their racist ideologies.

    1. Was totally unaware of that. Does that reflect badly on Fernando Alonso ?

      1. Ko, but in the political climate of America, with three alt right going crazy one, it is whise to remove the numbers in an American racing series.

      2. @potsie159 and Heinz Harald Frentzen who always appeared as HH Frentzen on the telly if I remember correctly!

      3. No, it doesn’t. His number is 14, not 1488.

    2. Actually, H is the 10th letter in octal. I must conclude that the real issue is that decimal numbers are inherently racist.

    3. It’s the opposite of what one should do. though. If you stop using numbers in your life, you are giving importance to that reason, reinforcing it. cannot use x number anymore, everybody avoids it now, because it’s closely related to that. it’s dangerous and stupid downwards spiraling.

    4. If we consistently shy away from using these numbers in other, non-nazi contexts, then they gradually become MORE associated with that usage. Is that what we want?

  5. 8 is considered lucky in China; 88, doubly so.

    1. It’s not 88 on its own that is a problem, its that their other car is 14 so the team would have had both of the numbers which have become major symbols of the white supremist/crypto-fascist movement in America.

  6. Naughty Neutral
    28th January 2023, 0:04

    The problem with this is that after a while evlach and every number is wrong… 4 stands for death, so 44 means double death? 13 for bad luck, 8 for happiness. Can’t use 40 because someone else might have 45, causing a stir in certain European countries te. WW2. Some Italians consider 17 unlucky, whilst the Babylonians didn’t like 19. 69 also has a certain meaning… If you look hard enough there’s always something wrong with any number…

    1. @Naughty Neutral
      4 stands for death only in the Chinese, Korean, & Japanese (the alternative but less used 4-word) languages.
      44 theoretically could be considered that way, yes, & here’s a good analogy of how different numbers are spooky worldwide, including 17 in Italy, etc.

      1. “only in the Chinese, Korean, & Japanese ”
        Which makes for 1/5 of global population..

    2. What wrong with 69 ?? :)

  7. Oh dear how did HHH get away with it for so long in WWF and WWE.
    And how on earth do Horner and Marko live with themselves seeing Red Bull sponsoring Team 888 including car 888 in V8 supercars?

    1. The team gave their reason, it is more an American culture thong with the rise of neo-nazis in their country due to racist neo Nazi alt right politicians. The numbers are a problem there but not here in Australia.

      1. The numbers aren’t a problem anywhere – the people who make ridiculous associations with them are.

      2. The team gave their reason, it is more an American culture thong

        So, just a minor pain in the ass ? (“thong”)

        1. In Australian parlance, I believe that a thong is an item of footwear, so it would take a little more effort to make it a pain in the ass.

      3. No, it is NOT an “American Culture thing”, any more than Richard Spencer, Charles Manson, David Duke or Timothy McVeigh are. They might be Americans, but their values are not our values. As Mr. Spencer found out, we might be required to let him speak– but that doesn’t mean we have to listen, or that we can’t mock the living hell out of him.

        This is guilt by association, and while I respect Mr. Foyt for taking the simple path, the entire thing does little more than raise awareness of an individual who until now, I was blissfully unaware of.

    2. Because HHH is different from HH and 888 is not the same number as 88?

      1. Yes see how cleverly disguised it was!

  8. If it’s just a number, than you will get over it in no time, it’s just a number, unless you are alt-right hating on the good majority that is the left. On a car it is just a number, so get over it and don’t start more culture wars

    1. Far left, far right, both view points take things too far. Point is, if we let the constantly offended try to change the world to fit their personal sensitivities then we will all be living in a very dull grey world where every freedom and right will be gone.

      But then, this is part of a much bigger agenda….

      1. Yeah right, the big agenda of a race team not wanting to run what could be read as promotion of literal Nazis.

        How horrible … if you’re a Nazi wanting free promotion.

      2. Quite the contrary actually. Have you seen the pride movement…?

  9. some racing fan
    28th January 2023, 6:25

    Why not 69? I wonder if that would be considered offensive?

    1. Only to people who are determined to be offended

    2. That’s more a handling issue. Cars with the number 69 tend to wind up going end over end.

    3. Maybe get a sponsorship from Listerine?

  10. I am a very left wing person, would probably be called ‘woke’ but this is just silly. How about we first wait to find any other proof that the guy is sympathetic to this ideology before we say ‘sorry, you cannot express your ideology on the car through a number’. Without further evidence surely we should just assume it is his favourite number.

    1. It’s because the other car is 14 and 1488 is a neo Nazi symbol, not just 88. It would be like having one driver with the initials and a logo of a stylised NA and then hiring a driver with ZI initials. You might reasonably insist he changes his logo for the sake of promotional material.

      1. Why not get them to change names while they are at it?

        1. Because a change of logo would be a fairly minor way to avoid embarrassment for themselves and sponsors down the line. Much like asking a driver to pick a different number so that their promotional material doesn’t look like a neo-nazi recruitment ad.

          1. Because a change of logo would be a fairly minor way to avoid embarrassment for themselves and sponsors down the line.

            What embarrassment? Accidentally (or deliberately?) hiring two drivers whose initials just happen to make a word when put together in a certain way? Come off it…

            Much like asking a driver to pick a different number so that their promotional material doesn’t look like a neo-nazi recruitment ad.

            Find me even one person who genuinely thinks that’s what it looks like.

            This whole take on some totally innocent numbers is so left field that it’s actually hilarious – in a very depressing kind of way.
            What has the world come to….?

          2. So you genuinely think a hypothetical situation of a team hiring drivers with logos that combined spell Nazi wouldn’t lead to ridicule and therefore embarrassment?

            I wondered if some people might think the analogy was a bit of a stretch since most people won’t associate 1488 with Nazis in the first place. But I didn’t imagine that anybody would actually think an organisation should happily or understandably put out promos that would literally say Nazi all over them.

          3. So you genuinely think a hypothetical situation of a team hiring drivers with logos that combined spell Nazi wouldn’t lead to ridicule and therefore embarrassment?

            I think that even if a team did hire drivers with names that could be used that way, the team wouldn’t glorify it or even publicly promote it.
            It’s literally nothing.

            Who is associating race teams with this stuff? Even hypothetically?
            And why?

      2. Does ANYONE refer to any team by combining their two driver numbers? Is Mercedes 4463? Or 6344? Or how about 1133? Or is that 3311?

        Numerology is the worst of the superstitions.

        1. I didn’t say they do. But promotional images, particularly of the 2 cars next to each other, would most likely read as 1488 for anybody who already knows the association of those numbers. Same if you had 2 cars with the numbers 6 and 9 or those numbers near each other in an image, because you already associate 69 with something. The difference being that 69 isn’t hateful in any way and with 1488 most of us obviously wouldn’t see it because it isn’t widely known. But some would, and I guess that’s what they considered.

        2. This isn’t “numerology” or superstition. It’s a professional racing team, with sponsors and media presence, trying not to associate themselves needlessly with a literal neo-nazi dogwhistle.

          1. trying not to associate themselves needlessly with a literal neo-nazi dogwhistle.

            Which, by drawing attention to this and going through this process, is exactly what they’ve done.

            I suppose this makes them very socially aware and more media friendly now?
            What wonderful people they are for creating a problem right after they solved it.

      3. @matt90 “It would be like having one driver with the initials and a logo of a stylised NA and then hiring a driver with ZI initials”

        Yes, that would be a problem, they’d be knows as Zina the warrior princesses

  11. If you read this as deciding a 2 digit number has Nazi connotations, it sounds a bit silly, and that it would actually enforce any association.

    But it sounds like the issue really is that the team were due to have both 14 and 88 at the same time. As 1488 is a clear neo nazi symbol, it makes sense to stear clear of that. Bit like how they probably wouldn’t want to release promotional images of their drivers posing next to a swastika even if it’s Hindu.

  12. IfImnotverymuchmistaken
    28th January 2023, 10:49

    Obviously they never tried to type words on their calculators as kids. They went from BB to SS.

    1. They should have switched to 85.

  13. Don’t make this one political. As a liberal, I’m scratching my head, wondering what in the world they’re on about.

    Then again, numerology is even more coincidence based than astrology, so…. I’m probably not the one to ask. Further, I’m “Class of 88” as well, so.

    Respect to AJ for caring, but seriously, this is Streisand effect territory.

    1. Unintended consequences.

  14. Lol imagine not wanting to be associated with gross right wing extremism and going to all this effort on mere numbers…meanwhile you’re still happy to run Santino.

    1. I was wondering that same thing. Wasn’t he the guy that wanted to run a Trump slogan on his car?

  15. Its obviously about the PR of 14 and 88 and someone probably younger, more liberal and educated in the team’s PR staff probably caught it.

    I took the Mickey about Santino earlier, and I’m not being political or taking sides or suggesting they’re all evil, but it is objectively factually known that Foyt is very much a traditional southern conservative. Ferrucci’s views are also well known.

    I do genuinely think, even if that person/people may ideologically agree or not, or if it’s fully fair, that someone in the team who is some level of switched on has legit gone ‘look no-one wants politics in sport, and the Indycar fanbase is broadly conservative, but it just might be a bit much overall to have car numbers 14 and 88, on the team run by the famous angry old conservative… who has just hired a Trump supporter.

    Obviously it wasn’t deliberate or meant to be some grand right wing statement but all that together would look so bad lol.

  16. AllTheCoolNamesWereTaken
    28th January 2023, 16:31

    Before reading this article, I was vaguely aware that the number 88 has certain connotations in certain … uh … circles. Having said that, if I saw the number on a race car, I honestly don’t think I would ever make that connection. I don’t imagine many reasonable people would. For that reason, there’s a part of me that thinks that this is an unnecessary move on AJ Foyt’s part.

    Then again, now that those connotations have been brought to everyone’s attention, I suppose that not changing the number could result in some controversy, however minor. I can’t say I blame Foyt for wanting to avoid that. We all have to pick our battles.

  17. 88…two fat ladies! lol

  18. Two fat ladies?
    Fat-shaming and sexist, but (possibly) inclusive

  19. The combination is unfortunate, so it makes sense to change it.

    But on the plus side, the fact that Nazis (nothing neo about them) are now playing games with numbers is, in a way, a good sign. Much better in any case than having them hang around en masse in Madison Square Garden.

  20. We will soon run out of words and numbers that we are “allowed” to use.

  21. Mark in Florida
    28th January 2023, 22:31

    Man I’m glad he didn’t run the number 3.14159 that would have upset all the booger eating nerds in the world.
    Whew! Really dodged it there A.J. Christ! Can’t we worry about real problems instead of made up ones?
    We have world hunger, war, disease, you name it we got it.

    1. The state of Arizona changed the name/number of U.S. Highway “666”. Over the years, U.S. 666 has sometimes been the object of controversy because “666” is the “number of the beast” (or Antichrist) in the Bible. Revelation 13:18 states:

      “Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.”

      I feel safer, now.

  22. 55 is ‘EE’ for Emilio Estevez

    1. Mark in Florida
      29th January 2023, 20:52

      But I can’t drive 55! Literally speed limits 65

  23. I actually had to google 1488 to understand any of this…totally lost on me!

  24. You can say that in every number. Some of them have bigger meanings some don’t

  25. I mean, it’s hardly a swastika. Seems like a bit of stretch but perhaps the link is more pronounced in the US? It seems sad that even numbers can be hijacked…

  26. Mark in Florida said “Christ! Can’t we worry about real problems instead of made up ones?”

    Best comment I’ve seen on here in a long time

Comments are closed.