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Andretti, Mario

Mario Andretti

1940-

American race car driver

Mario Andretti was named Driver of the Century for his distinguished racing career that spanned five decades. Andretti earned his reputation with Championship cars. He won a total of 52 Championship car races, including the prestigious Indianapolis 500 in 1969. He is also the all time leader of Championship car pole position wins with 67 and the all time lap leader with 7,587 laps. Andretti is the all time record holder for Champion car starts with 407 and he is the only driver to ever win Championship car races in four decades. In addition to a remarkable career with Championship cars, Andretti had distinguished himself as a driver who can win on any kind of track and in any kind of car. Andretti has also won races on the sprint, midget, and Formula One circuits. This kind of versatility has put Andretti into a class by himself.

Began Racing in Italy

Mario Gabriele Andretti was born on February 28, 1940 in Montona, Italy (currently Montovun, Croatia). His father, Alvise Luigi (known as "Gigi") was a farm administrator, while his mother, Rina, raised Mario, his twin brother Aldo, and his older sister Anna Maria. They were a well off family in this small town on the Istrian Peninsula until World War II broke out in Europe. Italy had joined the Axis nations of Germany and Japan and was defeated by the Allied forces. As part of the surrender agreement, the Istrian Peninsula was given to Yugoslavia. In 1948 the Andrettis and many other Italian families left their homes on the Istrian Peninsula and moved to other parts of Italy.

The Andrettis relocated to a refugee camp in Lucca, Italy. It was there that Mario and Aldo began driving their uncle's motorcycle and wooden derby car. At age 13 the boys got their first jobs parking cars for a garage. "The first time I fired up a car, felt the engine shudder and the wheel come to life in my hands, I was hooked. It was a feeling I can't describe. I still get it every time I get into a race car," explained Andretti in What's It Like Out There. The Andretti brothers idolized Italian race legend Alberto Ascari, but they had to hide their passion from their father because he disapproved of the sport. Without their parents' knowledge or permission, the boys began racing for a new youth racing league in Italy called Formula Junior.

Due to the difficult economic conditions in post-war Italy, the Andretti family immigrated to the United States in 1955 and they settled in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. The 15-year-old Andretti twins did not speak English so they were placed in the seventh grade in school, much to their embarrassment. In order to catch up with their classmates, they enrolled in correspondence courses. Through these courses Mario met Dee Ann Hoch, who would eventually become his wife.

Became a Professional Racecar Driver in America

Racing in America was quite different than that in Europe. In particular, Americans favored stock cars, while Europeans raced sports cars. In addition, Americans raced on oval tracks, while Europeans raced on winding roads. The Andretti boys learned everything they could about American racing and saved money to build a car. They eventually managed to rebuild a 1948 Hudson Hornet, which they debuted on the Nazareth Speedway in 1959. The brothers took turns racing their Hornet and borrowed other cars to race. They quickly established themselves as winners at the speedway. However, during the final race of 1959 Aldo crashed the Hornet and was seriously injured. He was in a coma for two weeks. Gigi Andretti discovered his sons' racing escapades because of this accident and he was extremely upset with the twins.

Neither Aldo's accident nor Gigi's disapproval stopped Mario from racing. During the next two years he won 21 of 46 stock car races. He also began racing in the United Racing Club sprint car circuit and the indoor midget car winter circuit to gain driving experience. In 1963 Andretti entered his first United States Auto Club (USAC) race, a sprint car race, in Allentown, Pennsylvania. This race allowed him to compete against some of the champions of racing, including A.J. Foyt . Although Andretti was a fairly successful driver, he was not yet able to support his young family on racing alone so he also worked as a foreman for Motorvator, a company that manufactured golf carts.

Chronology

1940 Born on February 28, 1940 in Montona, Italy
1948 Family relocates to a refugee camp in Lucca, Italy following World War II
1955 Andretti family immigrates to the United States
1959 Mario and Aldo Andretti begin driving at the Nazareth Speedway
1959 Aldo Andretti is seriously injured in a racing accident
1961 Marries Dee Ann Hoch
1962 Son Michael is born
1963 Enters first United States Auto Club race in Allentown, Pennsylvania
1964 Wins first United States Auto Club Championship race in Salem, Indiana
1964 Becomes United States citizen
1964 Son Jeff is born
1965 Begins driving for Dean Van Lines
1965 Finishes third in Indianapolis 500 and wins Rookie of the Year award
1965 Wins United States Auto Club National Championship
1966 Wins United States Auto Club National Championship
1969 Wins Indianapolis 500
1969 Wins United States Auto Club National Championship
1969 Daughter Barbara Dee is born
1971 Wins first Formula One race
1978 Wins Formula One World Championship
1981 Comes in second in controversial Indianapolis 500
1984 Wins United States Auto Club National Championship
1985 Finishes second in Indianapolis 500
1992 Four Andrettis (Mario, Michael, Jeff, and John) compete in Indianapolis 500
1993 Wins final Indy car race
1993 Sets fastest qualifying speed at Michigan International Speedway
1994 Retires from open-wheel racing
2002 Joins board of directors for Championship Auto Racing Teams

In April of 1964 Andretti entered his first USAC Championship race and in October of the same year he won his first USAC victory in Salem, Indiana. In 1965 Andretti became the lead driver for the Dean Van Lines team, which was owned by Al Dean. In this position, Andretti earned $5,000 a year plus 40 percent of his winnings. Andretti was now a full-time professional driver. With the support of Al Dean and chief mechanic Clint Brawner, Andretti was now in a position to win big races. In particular, 1965 was the first year that Andretti entered the Indianapolis 500. "The start of the 500 Mile Race is something else," Andretti explained in his autobiography What's It Like Out There? "The pace car pulls off the track, the green flag is dropped, and 33 drivers push their accelerators to the floor. It looks as if all 33 are trying to hit the first turn at once. Dust comes from all over. The sound alone is enough to drive the timid to the edge of panic." Andretti, however, was not timid and he finished the race in third place and won the Indianapolis Rookie of the Year Award. Although Andretti only won one USAC race that year, he finished well in several other races and earned enough points in the season to win the USAC National Championship, which was unusual for a rookie.

The Family Business

Andretti's racing career has always been a family business. Although his twin brother, Aldo, was not able to continue racing after two serious crashes in 1959 and 1969, he still remained involved in the sport and in his brother's career. During the peak of his racing career, Andretti became a family man. He married his English tutor, Dee Ann Hoch, on November 25, 1961. Their first child, Michael, was born in 1962, followed by Jeff in 1964, and Barbara Dee in 1969. The Andretti children were exposed to racing from an early age and were subjected to the lifestyle imposed by such a career. For example, the family spent every May living in Indianapolis, Indiana because of the Indianapolis 500, even though Nazareth, Pennsylvania was their home-town. The Andretti children also occupied themselves with their own racing vehicles and motorized toys, including dirt bikes, go-karts, motorcycles, snowmobiles, and jet skis.

The love for speed was shared by all of the children, even Barbara Dee. The only Andretti daughter loved to race dirt bikes as a child, although she would later pursue a career in singing and songwriting. Both Andretti sons, however, became racecar drivers, as did Aldo's oldest son, John. Andretti claims that he did not plan for his sons to follow in his footsteps. "These kids didn't grow up with me mapping their careers," Andretti told Ed Hinton of Sports Illustrated in 1992. "I think it was just a matter of being exposed to it." Andretti did not push his children into the sport, because he recognized that not everyone was capable of racing. "You have to be a dedicated person," Andretti explained to Lyle Kenyon Engel in Mario Andretti: The Man Who Can Win Any Kind of Race. "You have to want to do it more than anything else. You have to want to be Number One. Then you have to have the ability. You must be brave, but also have common sense." In 1992 the Andretti family made history when all four racers Mario, Michael, Jeff, and John, drove in the Indianapolis 500. While Jeff's career was cut short because of a serious accident that damaged his legs, Michael and John continue the Andretti racing legacy.

Awards and Accomplishments

1964 First United States Auto Club Championship in Salem, Indiana
1965 Won two United States Auto Club races
1965 Voted Rookie of the Year at the Indianapolis 500
1965 Championship Auto Racing Teams National Champion
1966 Championship Auto Racing Teams National Champion
1966 Won 14 United States Auto Club races
1967 Won nine United States Auto Club races
1967 Won the 12 Hours of Sebring race
1967 Daytona 500 Champion
1967 Driver of the Year
1968 Won three United States Auto Club races
1969 Indianapolis 500 Champion
1969 Won eight United States Auto Club races
1969 Championship Auto Racing Teams National Champion
1970 Won the 12 Hours of Sebring race
1971 First Formula One victory in South Africa
1972 Won the 12 Hours of Sebring race
1974 United States Auto Club National Dirt Track Champion
1978 Driver of the Year
1978 Formula One World Champion
1979 International Race of Champions titlist
1984 Championship Auto Racing Teams National Champion
1984 Driver of the Year
1985 Electrolux Clean Sweep Award for having won pole and race on five different occasions
1985 Driver of the Year
1987 Won 50th Championship car race at Phoenix
1991 One of four Andrettis to race in the Indianapolis 500
1992 Driver of the Quarter Century
1993 Oldest winner in Championship car history at age 53 at the Phoenix Indy
1999 Named Driver of the Century by the Associated Press (tied with A.J. Foyt)
2000 Named Driver of the Century by RACER magazine

Related Biography: Race Car Driver Michael Andretti

Michael Andretti, the oldest child of Mario and Dee Ann Andretti, is a racing champion in his own right. He was born on October 5, 1962 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. When he was only four years old he saw the Indianapolis Speedway for the first time. When he was seven years old his father won the coveted Indianapolis 500 race. Just 15 years later Michael Andretti competed in his first Indianapolis 500 along with his father. He was the fastest rookie in that race and earned the Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Award.

Like his father, Michael Andretti became a successful driver early in his career. When he was 19 years old he won his first professional championship in the Northeast Formula Ford Division. Two years later, in 1983, he debuted in the Indy Car World Series and the International Motor Sports Association. In addition to his first Indianapolis 500 start in 1984, Michael Andretti also had his first Sports Car Club of America Trans-am event. He has been a versatile driver like his father.

Michael Andretti has been racing on the CART circuit for 18 seasons and he has finished in the top ten of the championship in 17 of those years. He has won 42 Champ car races, which is the most of any active driver. He is also the Champ car leader in pole positions with 32, and laps led with 6,564. The one title that is noticeably missing from Michael Andretti's collection is the Indianapolis 500. Although he has competed in the race 13 times, he has not yet won there.

In addition to racing, Michael Andretti, like his father, has a number of other business interests. He is the owner of Michael Andretti Power-sports, and vice president of Andretti Enterprises and Andretti Global Development Corporation. His 15-year-old son, Marco, has already been racing karts and he seems poised to continue the Andretti family legacy.

Won the Indianapolis 500

Andretti's success continued throughout the rest of the 1960s. In particular, he repeated the USAC National

Championship in 1966 and he won the prestigious Daytona 500 in 1967, as well as the 12 Hours of Sebring endurance race. In 1967 Andretti won eight races but he came in second place in the USAC championship behind A.J. Foyt, another legend in racing who often challenged Andretti on the track. "He and I always respected one another because neither one wanted to settle for second," Foyt told Dave Caldwell of Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service in 1994. In 1968 Andretti again came in second place in the USAC championship to another racing rival, Bobby Unser . Andretti solidified his power as a racing champion by clinching the 1969 Indianapolis 500. He also won the Pike's Peak Hill Climb in Colorado, a race that had been dominated by Bobby Unser and his family. Andretti topped off 1969 with his third USAC National Championship.

The Indianapolis 500 is the most popular auto race among the general public and one of the most coveted championships among drivers. The track is called "The Brickyard" because it was paved with bricks when it was first built. In 1969 Andretti made his fifth appearance at the Indianapolis 500. During a practice session before the qualifying race, Andretti's car spun out of control and hit the concrete retaining wall. The car flew apart and began to burn. Andretti was lucky to walk away from the crash, although he suffered second-degree burns on his face.

During the qualifying run, Andretti placed second. A.J. Foyt, who had already won three Indianapolis 500 titles, won the pole position. Andretti knew that his car had mechanical problems and tended to overheat, so he did not expect to win the race. He decided to just run the car as hard as he could until it gave out. Although the car did start to overheat, Andretti learned that he could control the problem if he kept his speed at about 165 miles per hour. Several times he had wanted to go faster because of the tense competition around him, but he restrained himself to preserve his car. His strategy paid off. As other drivers fell out of the race due to mechanical problems, Andretti took the lead. In the end, he won his first and only Indianapolis 500 championship in three hours, 11 minutes, and 41 seconds.

A Versatile Driver

In the 1970s Andretti focused on Formula One racing on the international Grand Prix circuit. This consisted of 16 races held on four continents. Andretti's first Formula One race came in 1971 at the South African Grand Prix. He won several other Formula One races over the next few years. In 1978 he won the Formula One World Championship and a year later he won the International Race of Champions title.

Andretti's ability to be a successful racer in different cars and on different tracks is what has made him a truly exceptional driver. "Mario has a combination of various important factors that few of his fellow drivers in USAC share; a burning desire to prove his talents in all fields of racing," wrote Lyle Kenyon Engel in his 1970 book Mario Andretti: The Man Who Can Win Any Kind of Race. "He's not satisfied in topping the list in his major racing area of interest, championship cars, but also he wants to excel in sports cars, stockers and Formula cars."

Andretti continued to race both Formula One and Indy cars throughout the 1980s and half of the 1990s. "I have won on 127 different kinds of tracks, clockwise and counterclockwise. I have experienced the passing of the engine from the front to the back. I have raced with the greats who have since retired, and in places that are now parking lots," G.S. Prentzas quoted Andretti from a 1978 interview in the book Mario Andretti. In 1984 he won the Championship Car National Championship for the fourth time. He was also named Driver of the Year for the third time, becoming the first driver to receive the award in three different decades. Unfortunately, Andretti was never able to repeat his win at the Indianapolis 500. He came close in 1981 when he placed second to Bobby Unser. After the race was over, Unser was penalized one lap for passing illegally and Andretti was declared the winner. However, Unser protested the penalty, the decision was overturned, and Unser was reinstated as the champion.

Although Andretti continued to drive when many of his contemporaries retired, his victories became sparser as he got older. Andretti won his last Indy car race in Phoenix in 1993. It was the 52nd of his career. That same year, he set the highest qualifying speed at the Michigan International Speedway at 234.275 miles per hour, proving that age had not slowed him down. Andretti decided to retire at the end of the 1994 season. "There's no question that I've driven past my prime, but realistically, I'm still capable of bringing home results," Andretti told Bruce Newman of Sports Illustrated in 1994. Even after his retirement, Andretti continued to race in the 24 Hours of LeMans, the one international motor racing title that had eluded him.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Address: Andretti Enterprises, 3310 Airport Rd, Allentown, PA 18109-9302. Phone: (610) 266-0264.

Where Is He Now?

Although Andretti no longer drives racecars, he is still involved in the sport of racing. In 2002 he joined the board of directors for Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART). He has also been a spokesperson for improving safety standards in racing. Outside of racing, Andretti has a number of business ventures. He is vice chairman of the board of Andretti Wines in Napa Valley, California. He owns several Texaco and Shell gas stations in the Bay Area that feature his "Winning Finish" and "Quick Pit" logos. He also owns Andretti Toyota and Andretti Mitsubishi in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania and a chain of Andretti Hanna Carwashes in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. Additionally he owns Andretti Signature Line, which sells Andretti apparel, books, and collectibles. In 1998 Andretti participated in the creation of an IMAX film called Super Speedway.

SELECTED WRITINGS BY ANDRETTI:

(With Bob Collins) What's It Like Out There, Regnery, 1970.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Books

The Complete Marquis Who's Who. Marquis Who's Who, 2001.

Encyclopedia of World Biography. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Research, 1998.

Engle, Lyle Kenyon. Mario Andretti: The Man Who Can Win Any Kind of Race. New York: Arco Publishing Company, Inc., 1970.

Prentzas, G.S. Mario Andretti. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1996.

St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. St. James Press, 2000.

Periodicals

Caldwell, Dave. "Mario Andretti to Give His Best Shot in His 29th and Final Indy 500." Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service (May 28, 1994).

Cote, Greg. "Name Says It All: Andretti." Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service (March 2, 1997).

Hinton, Ed. "Duel with Time." Sports Illustrated (June 26, 1995): 50-53.

Hinton, Ed. "Inherit the Wind." Sports Illustrated (May 11, 1992): 78.

Honeycutt, Dean. "On the Fast Track with Mario Andretti." The Washington Times (January 22, 1998): 8.

Kallmann, Dave. "Andretti Moving Too Fast for Talk About Family 'Curse.'" Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (May 31, 2002).

Long, Gary. "Mario Remains in a Class by Himself." Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service (May 26, 1994).

Meacham, Jody. "Andretti's Career Comes to an Anticlimax." Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service (October 10, 1994).

Myslenski, Skip. "Meet the Next Potentially Great Andretti." Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service (August 16, 2002).

Nagy, Bob. "Return of the Master: Mario Andretti Still Winning After All These Years." Motor Trend (March 1985): 121-123.

Newman, Bruce. "Arrivederci, Mario." Sports Illustrated (October 17, 1994): 88.

Shaw, Bill. "A Driver Divided, Mario Andretti Wants the Indy 500 for Both Himself and His Son." People Weekly (May 28, 1984): 60-61.

Stone, Matt. "Like Fathers, Like Sons." Motor Trend (September 2001): 116.

Other

Motorsports Hall of Fame. http://www.mshf.com/hof/andretti_mario.htm (December 18, 2002).

Official Andretti Family Website. http://www.andretti.com (December 31, 2002).

Sketch by Janet P. Stamatel

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Mario Andretti

Mario Andretti

Mario Andretti's name is virtually synonymous with the sport of race car driving. A versatile driver with a charasmatic personality, he has won numerous races and seen two sons and a nephew become successful in the sport.

For many people all over the world, the name Mario Andretti is synonymous with automobile racing. From humble beginnings in a small Italian village, Andretti went on to become one of the most successful drivers in the history of the sport. Andretti's most amazing accomplishment was his versatility. He excelled in virtually every type of car and on every type of track there is, from 24-hour marathons to the Indianapolis 500. According to a 1989 poll, Andretti's name was better known to the American public than were the names of the next two most famous race car drivers—A. J. Foyt and Richard Petty—combined. During the peak years of his racing career in the 1960s and 1970s, Andretti earned a reputation as one of the sport's most daring drivers, as well as one of its most colorful personalities.

Though an avid racing fan from an early age, the circumstances of Andretti's youth were hardly conducive to a career as a top driver. He was born on February 28, 1940, in Montona, a northern Italian village near Trieste on the Istrian Peninsula. His father, Alvise, was a respected and influential farm administrator. The family lost all of its property during the Second World War, however, and after the war, the region became part of Yugoslavia. The Andrettis spent their first few years after the war in a camp for displaced persons. In 1948, Alvise moved the family to Lucca, a town near Florence, in order to maintain Italian citizenship. There he found a job working in a toy factory.

Bitten by Racing Bug Early

As young children, Mario and his twin brother, Aldo, became fascinated with cars and racing. The course of the Mille Miglia, Italy's famous 1,000-mile road race, went through Florence, and the boys were mesmerized by the noise and excitement of the event. Since the Andrettis lived across the street from a garage, the twins spent a great deal of their time hanging around mechanics and learning as much as they could about cars. Their hero was Alberto Ascari, one of the most famous drivers in Italy at the time. At the age of 13, Mario and Aldo entered a program for young race car driving hopefuls, against the wishes of their disapproving father. The only person Andretti told about his racing was an uncle, who also happened to be his priest. The youth racing program was eventually canceled because so many boys were getting injured, but the Andretti twins continued to pursue their hobby in secret.

In 1955 the entire Andretti family moved to the United States, settling in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, where an uncle already lived. By 1958, the twins had saved enough money to buy their first car, a 1948 Hudson Hornet. They rebuilt the car themselves, and began racing it at the half-mile Nazareth Speedway. One brother would drive the Hudson, while the other would borrow a car. Still keeping their racing a secret from their father, the Andretti boys quickly began to dominate the local racing scene, winning one stock car race after another. Papa Andretti finally learned the truth when Aldo, by most accounts the more aggressive driver of the pair, was seriously injured in racing accident at Hatfield, Pennsylvania. The crash put Aldo into a coma for two weeks, and although he recovered from his injuries, he was never able to successfully resume his driving career.

Meanwhile, Mario's career was getting ready to shift into high gear. Working weekdays as a mechanic, he drove on evenings and weekends, gradually making his way through the ranks of three-quarter midget cars, midget cars, and modified racers. In 1961 he married his high school sweetheart, Dee Ann Hoch. Around the same time, he quit his garage job, and decided to devote his attention to full-time racing. In 1962 Andretti raced sprint cars on the United Racing Club's Eastern circuit. The following year, he won 11 American Race Drivers Club midget car races, including three races in two different states on Labor Day, 1963.

Took USAC Crown as Rookie

By 1964 Andretti had caught the attention of Clint Brawner, chief mechanic for prominent race car sponsor Al Dean of Dean Van Lines. When Dean's main driver, Chuck Hulse, was injured, he chose Andretti as his replacement. Now in the big leagues of auto racing, Andretti quickly began to make a name for himself on the United States Auto Club (USAC) circuit, finishing in the top ten in a number of races. In 1965, his first full year in top-level racing, Andretti emerged as a star of the speedways, exciting racing fans with his bold driving style. He was signed to a multi-year contract by the powerful Firestone racing team, and although he won only one race that year—the Hoosier Grand Prix at Indianapolis—he was constantly among the leaders, including an impressive third-place finish at the Indianapolis 500. That consistency earned him the USAC national championship for the 1965 season.

Andretti, now an American citizen, repeated as USAC champion in 1966. That season, he won eight of the 15 championship races he entered. During one three-race stretch—the Milwaukee 100, the Langhorne 100, and the Atlanta 300—Andretti led from start to finish, for a total of 500 miles. That phenomenal season established Andretti as the hottest driver on the Indy-car circuit, as well as an international celebrity.

Andretti won eight races again in 1967, but fell just short of the USAC championship, which was taken by A. J. Foyt. As the 1960s continued, he felt the urge to seek out new challenges. For Andretti, that meant trying to duplicate his Indy-car success in other forms of racing. In 1967 he stunned the world of stock car racing by winning the prestigious Daytona 500. The following year, Andretti became involved in the Formula One road racing circuit. He also began to race occasionally on dirt tracks. Although he enhanced his reputation as one of the world's most versatile drivers, Andretti won only four USAC races in 1968, finishing second in the standings to Bobby Unser.

Closed 1960s with Indy Win

After a string of disappointments at the Indianapolis 500, the most important of all races, Andretti finally broke through with a victory in 1969. The win at Indy helped lift Andretti to his third USAC championship in five years. He also won a 12-hour road race at Sebring that season. In 1970 Andretti suffered a series of crashes and mechanical problems, and he failed to win any major races. With an Indy trophy finally in his collection, Andretti decided to focus more energy on Formula One racing during the 1970s. He won the South African Grand Prix in 1971, but struggled through the next several seasons without a Grand Prix victory. He did, however, manage to win the USAC dirt track championship in 1974, a further show of his versatility.

In 1977 Andretti finally began to achieve the kind of success in Formula One racing that he had in Indy cars. He came in third in the standings among Formula One drivers that year, winning the U.S., Spanish, French, and Italian Grand Prix events. The following year, only his second racing Formula One full time, Andretti realized a life-long dream by becoming the Formula One World Champion. By the early 1980s, however, Andretti had pretty much retired from the Grand Prix circuit, and was once more ready to concentrate on Indy cars. In 1984, at an age (46) generally considered over-the-hill for a race car driver, Andretti took his fourth Indy Car championship.

Drove Fast During Career Twilight

Although the victories started to come less frequently, Andretti continued to race competitively through the rest of the 1980s and into the first half of the 1990s, both in Indy Cars and in the occasional Formula One event. He won an Indy Car race in 1988 before encountering an extended dry spell. His last Indy Car win—the 52nd of his career—came in a 1993 race in Phoenix. That year, at the age of 53, Andretti set the all-time qualifying speed record of 234.275 miles-per-hour at the Michigan International Speedway. Andretti retired from racing following the Grand Prix of Monterey at the end of the 1994 season.

Meanwhile, the most famous race car driver in the world had spawned the most successful racing dynasty in history. Son Michael has become one of racing's top drivers in his own right. Andretti's other son, Jeff, and nephew John (Aldo's son) have also shown the Andretti magic behind the wheel. During the early 1990s, several Indy Car fields included four drivers named Andretti.

Mario considered making a one-race comeback in 1996, when a schism developed between Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) and the upstart Indy Racing League (IRL) over control of the Indianapolis 500 field. As a protest against IRL's attempt to stock the Indy field with its members, CART created the U.S. 500, to be run on the same day as the Indy 500 at the same Michigan track on which Andretti had set his qualifying record a few years earlier. After weeks of contemplation, Andretti eventually decided against entering the U.S. 500. Even in retirement, however, Andretti remains a giant figure among racing fans. He is much in demand for appearances and endorsements. Although he has now left the driving to the next generation of Andrettis, his charisma and diverse skills will be difficult for his successors to match.

Further Reading

Andretti, Mario, Andretti: Mario on Mario, Collins, 1994.

Roebuck, Nigel, Grand Prix Greats, Patrick Stephens, 1986.

People, August 28, 1978, pp. 37-43.

Libby, Bill, Great American Race Drivers, Cowles, 1970, pp. 180-184.

Prentzas, G. S., Mario Andretti, Chelsea House, 1996.

Sports Illustrated, May 11, 1992, pp. 78-93.

Road and Track, January, 1995, pp. 117-119.

Sports Illustrated, October 17, 1994, p. 88.

Indianapolis Star, January 18, 1996, p. D1. □

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Andretti, Mario

Mario Andretti (ăndrĕt´ē), 1940–, American auto racing driver, b. Italy. He is the only driver to have won the Indianapolis 500 (1969), stock racing's Daytona 500 (1967), and the international Formula One championship (1978). He retired from Indy-car racing in 1994 with 52 victories, second only to A. J. Foyt, but continued his attempts to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Andretti is the head of a racing family that includes his son Michael Andretti, 1962–, also a noted Indy car driver; son Jeff; and nephew John.

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