Mario Andretti Biography

American professional automobile racer Mario Andretti won more than 50 Indy Car races in his career. Andretti retired from competition in 1994.

Mario Andretti, born in 1940, American professional automobile racer, winner of more than 50 Indy Car races, the Indianapolis 500, and the World Grand Prix Formula One championship. Recognized as one of the most successful and versatile drivers in automobile racing history, he was also one of the most popular figures in the sport.

Andretti was born in Montona, Italy, in an area now part of Slovenia. He grew up in Lucca, where he began racing at the age of 13. In 1955 his family moved to Nazareth, Pennsylvania, and beginning in 1958 he became involved in stock car races, turning to full-time automobile racing in 1961. Andretti advanced to United States Auto Club (USAC) events in 1964 and won the USAC championship in 1965, the year he entered the Indianapolis 500 for the first time. He repeated as USAC champion in 1966, won the Daytona 500 (a stock-car event) in 1967, and won the Indianapolis 500 in 1969.

During the 1970s Andretti concentrated on Grand Prix Formula One racing. In 1971 he won his first Formula One race, and he won the championship in 1978. By the 1980s he had returned to Indy Car races. He came in second in the 1981 Indianapolis 500, in a disputed finish in which winner Bobby Unser lost the title to Andretti for several months because of a rules infraction. Andretti has also raced with—and against—his sons Michael and Jeff, who also became professional automobile racers. Andretti retired from competition in 1994.

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