Other Free Encyclopedias » Famous Sports Stars » Auto Racing » Mario Andretti Biography - Began Racing In Italy, Became A Professional Racecar Driver In America, Chronology, The Family Business - SELECTED WRITINGS BY ANDRETTI:

Mario Andretti - Won The Indianapolis 500

bobby unser car race championship usac

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

Mario Andretti, sitting in car

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.

Mario Andretti - A Versatile Driver [next] [back] Mario Andretti - Related Biography: Race Car Driver Michael Andretti

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