Mario Andretti is an American racing legend and businessman, as well as official ambassador for the new Circuit of The Americas which hosted its inaugural Formula One GP in 2012. In 2011 he was named one of the 25 coolest athletes of all time by GQ, joining the likes of Muhammed Ali and Pelé, as well as picking up a number of other awards and accolades through his career. Andretti won four Indy Car titles before becoming the Formula One World Champion in 1978 and was the last American driver to win a race in F1. As if that wasn’t enough he has won the Indianapolis 500 as well as the Daytona 500. This week’s Scrutineering will take a brief look at his career and include some fan thoughts!
USAC stockcar and NASCAR
At the age of 24 Mario Andretti started racing in the United States Automobile Club stockcar races and made his NASCAR debut in 1966. To date he and Juan Pablo Montoya are the only two drivers who have won the Indianapolis 500, an F1 race, and a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
Indy Car (nee Champ Car)
Andretti made his Champ Car debut in 1964 and had a long illustrious career, although took a break to compete in F1. His Indy Car career saw him take 67 pole positions, 52 victories and four championships. He is the only driver in Indy Car history to win his titles in four different decades. He also holds the record as all time lap leader with 7587 laps. His last victory came in 1993, aged 53, and he retired from the sport in 1994.
Formula One (1968-1972, 1974-1982)
Andretti approached Colin Chapman in the mid-60s, stating that he wanted to try Formula One and in 1968 he was given his chance, driving for Lotus at Watkins Glen where he took pole position. He did not compete in a full F1 season until 1977, having spent the years in between racing occasionally for Lotus, Ferrari, and Parnelli. He took his first F1 victory in South Africa in 1971, with Ferrari, and that turned out to be the first of 12. He won the championship in 1978 for Lotus, beating Ronnie Peterson by 13 points, taking six victories, and one other second place podium. In his F1 career he had 18 pole positions and 19 podiums, the last of these coming in 1982 in Italy.
These are just a few highlights of his racing achievements but he has had a very rich and successful career and has also raced in Le Mans and the International Race of Champions amongst other things. You can take a full look at his career and his achievements at his website. As well as being a racer, he is also a business man and has his own winery – Scrutineering has only looked at a small part.
What fans say and like!
- As America’s last Formula One race winner it was only right that he was the official ambassador for The Circuit of The Americas, which put on a great show!
- The fact he drove the first lap of the circuit in his Lotus 79 in which he won his world championship
- His career has been so varied and so long – he really is a racing legend
- The fact he has embraced Twitter
- “If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough”
- He is mentioned in a number of songs including Drive by Alan Jackson