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Template:Former F1 driver Mario Gabriele Andretti (born February 28, 1940 in Montona d'Istria, Italy, now Motovun, Croatia) is an Italian American racing driver, and one of the most successful Americans in the history of auto racing.

During his career, Andretti won four IndyCar titles, the 1978 Formula One World Championship, and the 1979 IROC championship. To date, he remains the only driver ever to win the Indianapolis 500 (1969), the Daytona 500 (1967), and the Formula One World Championship.

The name Mario Andretti has become synonymous with speed in the United States, similar to Barney Oldfield in the early twentieth century and Stirling Moss in the United Kingdom.

Contents

Early life

Mario Andretti was born in the town of Montona d'Istria in the then Italian province of Istria. He was born with a twin brother, Aldo Andretti. After World War II Istria (which is now part of Croatia) was occupied and annexed by Yugoslavia. His family, like many other Italian Istrians, fled in 1948. They lived in a refugee camp from 1948 to 1955. The five members of the Andretti family resettled in Nazareth, Pennsylvania in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley in June 1955.

Racing career

Andretti's first exposure to auto racing was watching part of the Mille Miglia race in 1954, where he became captivated by Alberto Ascari. [1]

Racing debut

Mario and Aldo worked on a 1948 Hudson Hornet Sportsman stock car in an uncle's garage in 1959. They took turns racing the car on oval dirt tracks near Nazareth in 1959 in the old Hudson. The twins each had two wins after their first four races. [2] Mario had 20 modified stockcar wins in his first two seasons. [3]

IndyCar career

Mario made his championship car debut in the USAC series in 1964 at Trenton, New Jersey, starting sixteenth and finishing eleventh. Andretti won his first championship car race at the Hoosier Grand Prix in 1965. His third place finish at the 1965 Indianapolis 500 won him the Rookie of the Year award, and won the series championship. He repeated as series champion in 1966.

Racing in several series

Mario Andretti
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Andretti raced in numerous different series between 1967 and 1975. [2] He juggled Can-Am, Formula 5000, Formula One, Indy car, drag racing, sprint cars, and many others. Andretti finished second in the IndyCars in 1967 and 1968 before his second championship in 1969. He won nine IndyCar races in 1969, including the 1969 Indianapolis 500. He was the 1974 USAC dirt track champion in 1974. Andretti finished second in the driver's championship for the Formula 5000 in both 1973 and 1974.

Major races that he won in that period include his 1967 Daytona 500 win for Holman Moody, and three grueling 12 Hours of Sebring wins (1967, 1970, 1972).

Formula One career

File:AndrettiMario19690801Lotus63-Allrad-3.jpg
Andretti drove his Lotus at the 1969 German Grand Prix.

Andretti also started driving in Formula One, taking the pole for his first race at Watkins Glen in 1968, later winning the non-championship Questor Grand Prix in Ontario from the back of the grid, beating more established names like Jochen Rindt, Jackie Stewart and Phil Hill. He won his first grand prix in 1971 for Ferrari. By the mid-1970s, Andretti started to focus on Formula One, driving for Parnelli Jones's fledgling Parnelli Formula One team and Colin Chapman's famous Lotus outfit. His ability at developing a racing car soon progressed the Lotus towards the front end of the Formula One grid, culminating in a victory at the season's concluding race at the Mount Fuji circuit in Japan where Mario was a lap ahead of his nearest challenger. In 1977, at Long Beach, he became the only American to win the United States Grand Prix West, in the Lotus 78 "wing car". Andretti's development work at Lotus was to result in the revolutionary "ground effect" Lotus 79 of 1978, a season in which he won six races and took the title — a bitter-sweet victory in the light of the death of his teammate Ronnie Peterson, whom Andretti had grown to regard as a close friend. However, Andretti would find little success after 1978 in Formula One, failing to win another race in that series. In the following year, 1979, he had a torrid time as the new car introduced by Lotus failed to deliver its' promise and the team had thus to rely on the Lotus 79 which by now was showing its' age. In 1980, he was paired with Italian ace Elio de Angelis but once again, good fortune was to prove elusive. Mario drove well in 1981, very well indeed according to Nigel Roebuck of Autosport in his season-end review. However as a closing note to his F1 career nearly two years later, Mario was hired by Ferrari to enter the final two races of the 1982 season. He took an impressive pole position at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza (the Italian-born Andretti's success causing what Roebuck said was the loudest roar the famous circuit had ever seen), just as he did at Watkins Glen International in his debut race in 1968.

Return to IndyCar racing

He returned to IndyCars in the 1982. He won the pole for nine of sixteen events in 1984, and claimed his fourth CART title. It was Newman's first series title. His last victory in that class came in 1993. Andretti kept racing to try to win the only important missing award—the 24 hours of Le Mans, but failed to do so. His best finish is 2nd in 1995, and 3rd in 1983 (Porsche 956), both with his son Michael.

Legacy

Many people, particularly Americans, still consider him to be the finest all-around driver ever, and in 2000, the Associated Press and RACER magazine named him "Driver of the Century." The same year, he was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the United States National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1996, and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1990.

Andretti had 109 career wins on major circuits. [3] He was the Driver of the Year in three years (1967, 1978, and 1984), and is the only driver to be Driver of the Year in three decades. [2] Andretti was named the Driver of the Quarter Century in 1992. [3]

On October 23, 2006, at the Columbus Citizens Foundation in New York, Andretti was awarded the highest civilian honor given by the Italian government, the Commendatore dell'Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana (known as the Commendatore), in honor of his racing career, public service, and enduring commitment to his Italian heritage. Enzo Ferrari is the only other recipient of the Commendatore from the world of automobile racing.

Legacy at Indianapolis

Andretti also made the saying "Mario is slowing down!" famous at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Andretti's futility at Indy is legendary.

Andretti finished second in the 1981 Indianapolis 500 by eight seconds behind Bobby Unser. The following day Unser was penalized one lap for passing cars under a caution flag, and Andretti was declared the winner. Unser and his car owner Roger Penske appealed the race stewarts' decision. USAC overturned the one lap penalty four months later, and penalized Unser with a $ 40,000 fine.

In the 1985 Indianapolis 500, he was passed by Danny Sullivan who then spun in front of him, pitted on his own caution, and then passed Mario again to go on for the win. His frustration came to a head in the 1987 Indianapolis 500 when he dominated the entire month of May and led for 170 of the first 177 laps, but was taken out by an electrical failure.

Mario finished all 500 miles just five times including his 1969 Indianapolis 500 victory. Andretti suffered broken ankles in the 1992 Indianapolis 500 crashing hard in turn four during the race. His last race at Indy was the 1994 Indianapolis 500.

On Wednesday, April 24, 2003 while shaking down a his son's Indycar in place of the injured Tony Kanaan during tire testing at Indianapolis, Andretti survived a horrifying accident. At 5:58 pm -- two minutes before the scheduled end of the session -- Andretti powered out of the first turn onto the "south cute" of the circuit. In his path lay a chunk of debris from an accident involving the automobile of Kenny Brack, which had occurred mere seconds previously. The object forced the nose of Andretti's car to become airborne; aerodynamic forces then sent the racer into a rapid double reverse somersault at speeds exceeding 200 miles per hour. Television footage from a local TV station's helicopter showed that the car gained so much altitude that it would nearly have been capable of clearing the debris fence mounted atop the circuit's outer retaining wall. Andretti's car fell back to earth, having been slowed by its mid-air tumble, and slid to a stop. Luckily, the car landed right side up and Andretti walked away from the crash with very minor injuries.

Racing family

Both of Mario Andretti's sons, Michael and Jeff, are also involved in auto racing, and Michael has won the IndyCar title as well. As of 2003, he had won more races than any other driver in the IndyCar series. Mario's nephew, John, has had success in both IndyCar and NASCAR, winning races in both series. His grandson, Marco, won a championship in IndyCars' "Stars of Tomorrow" kart racing series, before moving into the Star Mazda single-seater series. Marco completed his first full season in the Indy Racing League (IRL) in 2006, driving for his father Michael's Andretti-Green Racing Team, and upon finishing second in the 2006 Indianapolis 500, became the first third-generation-recipient of the race's Rookie of the Year Award, following in the footsteps of both his father and grandfather. Marco is currently set to take a Formula 1 test drive with Honda Racing F1 at Jerez.[1]

Mario Andretti and son Michael Andretti both reside today in their respective close sitting mansions overlooking the town of Nazareth, Pennsylvania, from the north side of the town, home to Mario Andretti and his family since the 1950's. Andretti continues day-to-day work as a spokesman for Texaco and Firestone (his longtime sponsors). He is also something of a spokesman for CART, although he has been spotted at IndyCar races throughout the 2006 season as he watches over his grandson Marco.

References in popular culture

  • Champion Australian thorougbred sprinter Miss Andretti is named for him
  • There is a movie about Mario and Michael Andretti and the making of the Newman/Haas Racing cars, called Super Speedway, available in DVD and Imax.
  • In the Pixar Animation Studios film Cars, Mario Andretti does a cameo, playing himself as the 1967 Ford Fairlane on which he won the Daytona 500.
  • Andretti is mentioned in the Beastie Boys song "Shadrach" with the line "You love Mario Andretti cause he always drives his car well."
  • In her song Crash, Gwen Stefani sings "I picture you driving just like Mario Andretti."
  • The Charlie Daniels Band paid tribute in the song "Uneasy Rider" with the line, “Mario Andretti would’da sure been proud of the way I was movin’ when I passed that crowd…”
  • Amy Grant sings: "You like to drive like Mario Andretti, I like it taking my time" in her song "Good For Me".
  • Alan Jackson mentions Andretti in his song Drive (for Daddy Gene), singing "Just a dirt road with trash on each side, but I was Mario Andretti when daddy let me drive"
  • Andretti is mentioned in "Award Tour" by A Tribe Called Quest with the line, "Lyrically I'm Mario Andretti on the MOMO, ludicrously speedy or infectious with the slow-mo."
  • In the movie Beverly Hills Cop II, after crashing the Ferrari, Inspector Todd calls Jeffrey "Mario Andretti Freidman."
  • Andretti is Vice Chairman of a winery bearing his name in Napa Valley, California.
  • Andretti is mentioned in a House of Pain song, "Top o' the Morning to You."
  • Andretti is referenced in the Traxamillion song, "The Sideshow" featuring Too $hort in the lyric: "Driving hella fast like Mario Andretti".
  • Andretti is mentioned in "Let the Funk Flow" by EPMD with the line, "Use the same fuel as Mario Andretti."

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References

  1. Biography at the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America; Retrieved January 18 2007
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Mario Andretti synonymous with racing"; Larry Schwartz; ESPN.com; Retrieved January 18 2007
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Biography at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, Retrieved January 18 2007

External Links

  • Andretti Family Official Web Site
  • Stats from Racing-Reference.info
  • Super Speedway at the Internet Movie Database
  • Andretti Winery
Andretti Family
Adam Andretti | Jeff Andretti | John Andretti | Mario Andretti

This article uses material from the "Mario Andretti" article on the The Third Turn wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.







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