The LEGEND Of Mario Andretti – A Brief History On The Driver That Forever Changed Indy Car

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In January 2014, Mario Andretti headlined the class of inductees into the National Motorsports Press Association NASCAR Hall of Fame. Throughout Andretti’s extensive career in racing, he was named United States Driver of the Year in 1967, 1978 and 1984. He was the only person to receive this honor in three decades. He has 109 career wins on the major circuits and he is the all-time IndyCar lap leader with a whopping 7,595 laps. He and Dan Gurney are the only two drivers who have won races in IndyCar, Formula One, NASCAR and the World Sportscar Championship. Currently, Andretti is the only driver to win the Daytona 500 (1967), Indianapolis 500 (1969) and the Formula One world Championship (1978).

Andretti/Foyt Rivalry

The greatest and longest rivalry was between Mario Andretti and A.J. Foyt. Their contrasting racing styles fueled their rivalry during the 1960s and 1970s. Andretti states that rivalries fuel competition, he considered Foyt his ‘yardstick’ for competition.

Andretti competed in a record 407 Indy car races, earning him 52 wins – he is only second to his nemesis, A.J. Foyt.

First Father/Son Team – Mario and Michael Andretti

In 1989, Mario’s son joined Newman/Haas. This was a historical event as he and his son, Michael, were the first father/son team competing in both Champ Car racing and IMSA GT. In the 1991 season, Mario finished seventh, whereas his son Michael won the championship.

In 1993, Michael left Newman/Haas for Formula One and Mario clinched his last victory in IndyCar racing at Phoenix International Raceway. At 53 years, 34 days old, this win made him the oldest recorded winner in any IndyCar event.

Mario Andretti Synonymous with Speed

When the name Mario Andretti comes to mind, speed follows quickly thereafter. RACER magazine and The Associated Press have both named Andretti the “Driver of the Century.” Andretti is, without a doubt, one of the elite in the history of racing.

Andretti continued racing sporadically until he turned 60 years old in 2000, at which time he completed the 24 hours of Le Mans.

Andretti Trivia Facts

  • In 1970, the final NASCAR race held on a dirt track took place at the State Fairgrounds Speedway in Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • Andretti’s 1978 Dutch Grand Prix win is the last time that an American won a Formula One race.
  • A rap group, A Tribe Called Quest, immortalized Andretti in their 1993 song entitled “Award Tour.”
  • Throughout his career, he drove for six different Formula One teams including Williams, Ferrari and Lotus.
  • He is the unsurpassed leader in the top-3 and top-5 Indy car results.
  • He has a twin brother named Aldo and their father’s name is Luigi (Mario and Luigi – why does that ring a bell?).
  • According to Mario and Aldo’s mother, Rina, at the age of two, the boys took pot lids out of the cupboard and ran around yelling “vroom, vroom,” as if they were driving cars. Interestingly, they had yet to see a car. By the age of five, the two were racing through the steep streets of Nazareth, Pennsylvania in their handcrafted wooden cars.
  • Andretti won the Indy 500 in 1969 driving the Brawner Hawk. A replica of this car resides at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum.

 

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