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Mario Andretti - The Family Business

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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.

Mario Andretti - Awards And Accomplishments [next] [back] Mario Andretti - Chronology

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almost 2 years ago


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about 8 years ago

I am seeking information about a young man whom I taught in high school in Whittier, CA. in 1970. The student's name was Walter Gilbert, and he said his father worked in the Andretti pit crew, so when there was a major race, Walter would take off for a few days to help out. In August I found out that he died in a mining accident in the Mojave Desert in 1995. I was just devastated to hear this, as I thought so much of Walter. I haven't found out any details, and I keep imagining him maybe on a motorcycle crashing down into an abandoned mine or some such horrible death.

If you could give me any information about Walter, I would greatly appreciate it. Was he married? Did he have children? Where was he living? Are his parents living? What kind of accident was it?

This is the 4th student of mine that has died, but the others have not affected me so much.

Best wishes to the Andretti family--have safe, happy holidays!

Carole Davis
8585 Graton Rd.
Sebastopol, CA 95472