Mario Andretti’s 1969 victory in the Indy 500 turns 50 this year and will be celebrated by grandson Marco with a special livery and by the Speedway with a tribute display of Mario’s most memorable cars.
Andretti earned the Rookie of the Year title at the 1965 Indy 500 after starting fourth and finished third, but became famed for his bad luck at race. In his 29 attempts at Indy, he completed the 500 miles on only five occasions, despite ranking third in the all-time lap-leaders with 556 laps. But in May 1969, he led 116 of the 200 laps to score the most prestigious win of his IndyCar career in Andy Granatelli’s STP-sponsored Clint Brawner-designed Hawk III-Ford. This was despite a slipping clutch, an overheating engine and a sticking wheel nut obliging him to run the race on only one set of tires.
Andretti and Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Doug Boles unveiled the 50th anniversary commemorative logo. It features Andretti waving next to the Borg-Warner Trophy, with the zero in the ’50’ representing the oval track and the historic Yard of Bricks start-finish line. “The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum will unveil a specially curated exhibit dedicated to Andretti and his iconic career.” The exhibit will feature historic Andretti cars, many making their first appearance at the Museum. It will also have video and audio recordings of Andretti and his family, and personal memorabilia to highlight his prestigious accomplishments. Despite winning four IndyCar championships and 52 victories, his 1969 triumph would prove to Andretti’s sole Indy 500 win. Mario Andretti also scored 12 Formula 1 wins and the 1978 world championship (the last for Team Lotus). Andretti took both Ford and Ferrari to victories in the Sebring 12 Hours, won the Daytona 24 Hours, and helped Ferrari conquer the world sportscar scene in the early 1970s. He won his class at Le Mans, beat the NASCAR regulars to triumph in the Daytona 500 in 1967, racked up numerous sprint car and midget wins, and took overall honors at the legendary Pikes Peak Hill climb.
His grandson Marco will race the #98 U.S. Concrete entry with a special livery that is inspired by his grandfather’s 1969 Indy 500 win. The car was unveiled live on NBC at the “Today Show” in late April. “I’m really happy we were able to pull this off. It’s a really cool way to honor Mario’s 50th anniversary,” said Marco Andretti, who became an ownership partner this year in the Andretti Herta Autosport with Marco & Curb-Agajanian entry. “The color will be hard to miss on track and the car looks great. We’re all very thankful that U.S. Concrete was on board to run the livery and make this year’s car as special as possible. We can’t wait to have a shot at bringing this car to victory lane on May 26.” Concluded Marco.
“I was full of pride when I learned that my son Michael was paying tribute to me this way,” said Mario Andretti, whose 1969 Indy 500 triumph was one of 52 career wins that rank second on the all-time list. “The effort his team is going through to present this commemorative car is flattering. Thank you to the team for that effort and also for acknowledging my part in Indy 500 history. “I am honored to have Marco carry the design from my 1969 car,” Mario added. “I hope this winning paint scheme will be a good omen for him and that he’ll get his first 500 victory. When I see the car, it will definitely be an opportunity for reflection. It’s humbling. It is a tremendous compliment to me that this team would look back at my victory and find it worthy of recognition.”
Before leaving this page you might be interested to read another blog post on “No Pain, No Gain”, the importance of proper training for racecar drivers.