The Andretti Family is motorsport racing royalty.

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Mario Gabriele Andretti was born February 28, 1940, in what is now Croatia.  His family, which includes twin brother Aldo Andretti, fled their homeland in 1948, living in a refugee camp in Lucca, Italy, for seven years.  The family settled in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, where the brothers began racing on oval dirt tracks near their home.  The twins enjoyed success racing modified stock cars and USAC sprint cars before Aldo suffered severe injuries during a crash in 1969, forcing his retirement.  Meanwhile, Mario Andretti enjoyed unprecedented success as a driver, becoming one of only two drivers—along with Dan Gurney–to win races in Formula One, IndyCar, World Sportscar Championship and NASCAR.  Mario is the only driver to win the Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500 and Formula One world championship.  Along with Juan Pablo Montoya, he is the only driver to win races in NASCAR Sprint Cup, Formula One and Indy.  No American has won a Formula One race since Andretti’s victory at the 1978 Dutch Grand Prix.  With 109 career wins, Mario Andretti is the only person to be named U.S. Driver of the Year in three decades [1967, 1978, 1984].  He is the first to win IndyCar races in four different decades and first to win auto races of any kind in five.  Mario Andretti competed 29 times in the Indianapolis 500, winning in 1969.  In 2000, he was named Driver of the Century by the Associated Press and RACER magazine.

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Marco Andretti, Mario Andretti

Michael Andretti is Mario’s oldest son, born October 5, 1962.  He was named Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year in 1984 and twice nearly won the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”  In 1991, he led with 12 laps remaining before losing to Rick Mears.  The following year, he led with eleven laps to go before a failed fuel pump knocked him out of the race.  A legend in CART, Michael Andretti is the third most successful driver in that circuit’s history, with 42 wins.  He won the 1991 CART IndyCar World Series championship, finished third in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1983 and had four Top Five finishes in 16 starts at Indy.  In those 16 career starts, Michael Andretti led 431 laps at Indianapolis but never enjoyed a swig of the championship milk.  As an owner, Michael has won the Indy 500 three times.

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John Andretti, born March 12, 1963, is Mario’s second son.  John has won in CART, IMSA, GTP, Rolex Sports Car Series and NASCAR Southwest Series.  John Andretti has competed in the Indianapolis 500 twelve times.  Jeff Andretti, younger brother to Michael and John, was born April 14, 1964.  He has raced in the 24 Hours of Daytona, NASCAR Truck Series, Champ Car, and has run in the Indy 500 five times, including 1991, when he was named Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year.

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Marco Andretti, born March 13, 1987, drives the Number 27 car for his father Michael, owner of Andretti AutoSport.  He debuted at the Indianapolis 500 in 2006, finishing second to Sam Hornish, Jr. in the second-closest finish in Indy history, to become the third Andretti to finish in the Top Five in their first appearance at The Brickyard.  Three months later, Marco Andretti became the youngest winner [19 years, 167 days] of a major open-wheel racing event with his first career victory in Sonoma.  Marco has two wins, four poles and was has appeared in ten straight Indy 500s.  In 2006, he became the third Andretti to be named Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year.  Adam Andretti, born March 24, 1979, has raced in sports cars, NASCAR and IndyCar.  The son of Aldo Andretti, he drove in the 24 Hours of Daytona and, in 2000, won a race in U.S. Formula 3.  Jarett Andretti is John’s son and cousin of Marco.  He is currently competing in both the USAC National Sprint Car and Silver Crown Series, a 50-race season run on dirt and paved tracks.  Jarett Andretti earned Rookie of the Year honors at Lawrenceburg [IN] Speedway in 2013.

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The Indianapolis 500, along with the Monaco Grand Prix and 24 Hours of Le Mans, is part of the Triple Crown of Motorsport—the three most prestigious motorsport events in the world.  Billed as the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, The Brickyard will host the 100th running of the Indy 500 in May 2016.  The Andretti Family has started in the Indianapolis 500 on 70 occasions, with their only win coming with Mario’s victory in 1969.  This perpetual string of bad luck is known as the “Andretti Curse.”  Also known as “Andretti Luck,” it is open-wheel racing’s equivalent of the “Curse of the Billy Goat” [Daily Dose, October 6].

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  1. Both of my parents were born in Indiana. My father was commissioned in the USAF following graduation at IU in 1956, married and then my parents were off to travel the world. As a kid in the 60’s we were not always in a place that the 500 mile race was accessible by television, but I remember watching the tv or listening to the race on the radio every memorial day weekend with my Dad. In 1969 we had just moved from Anderson AFB Guam to SAC HQ at Offutt AFB Nebraska. I was a proud Cub Scout working on extending my collection of silver arrowheads for my Wolf Badge that year. I remember Mario’s first, and only win at Indy, just before my 9th birthday. Mario had crashed his Lotus-Ford in May before the race and was forced to qualify in a backup Hawk-Ford. Just after my 9th birthday my father and I set out to construct a Pinewood Derby car in a Lotus inspired design in honor of Mario’s fiery crash before winning the 500 mile race. To make it look correct to a rear engine design with a more forward open cockpit, we made what was considered the front of the provided rough pre-cut wood block into the back. Before the race had started there was a buzz in Omaha Cub Scout Pack 464 about the radical design of my car. Many years later I found out from my father that there was even a short rules discussion about my design before the race began. I won the Pinewood Derby in June of 1969 as easily as Mario had the month earlier and was showered with STP and other racing paraphernalia, much of it was related to Mario’s recent Indy 500 victory which I saw as equivalent. I continued as one of the many Mario fans every year from 1969 on finding the Andretti Curse to be a seemingly endless source of frustration. My first live Indianapolis 500 was in 1983 post graduation from Indiana University after moving from college to Chicago. There are too many stories about the race from the following 13 year streak of attendances. I broke my streak after becoming disillusioned by the IRL CART split and struggling with the obligations of a young family of my own. I have sporadically returned since. I took my parents in 2004, so that they could be at their first race in 50 years. I have a cherished photo of my parents and daughters from that race. My father and mother said that back in the day when you sat that close to the track you came home covered in oil, so their experience that day quite different from their last. I have my fathers time trial tickets from 1954. I have that Omaha Cub Scout Pack 464 1969 1st place Pinewood Derby Car. I have a Mario signed print of his 1969 Indianapolis 500 winning car. My fellow Mario fan, and Indy 500 super fan hero, Jay Beatty has the same print. Jay and I will be at the 100th running. I’m hoping that Jay will spring for a “disposable” used van again so we can pick up a 2 days supply of beer, KFC, set up camp at the Speedway Petshop, and make a 6am mad dash to the infield just beyond the Snake Pit. Those stories are for another day.

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