Mario Andretti turns 73 today. Mario Andretti is one of the greatest all-around race car drivers in history. He is along with Dan Gurney the only drivers to win races in Formula One, IndyCar, World Sportscar Championship and NASCAR. He also won races in midget and sprint cars. He won the 1978 Formula One Championship and four IndyCar titles and IROC VI. He is the only driver to ever win the Indy 500, Daytona 500 and Formula One Championship. He was United States Driver of the Year in three different decades. He is one of only three drivers who in a single season won races on road courses, paved ovals and dirt tracks-he did it four different seasons.
For all his great success I always think of Mario and his bad luck at Indy. He won the race in 1969 but that is the only time in the 29 races that he won it. He had so much bad luck at Indy that they said there was an “Andretti Curse.” The usual Indy 500 race for Mario would be- he would be doing well and something would happen. He only finished 5 of the 29 races. I remember thinking when he finally retired that it was probably a miracle with all that bad luck he had at Indy that he didn’t meet a tragic fate there. It’s hard to believe that his last Indianapolis 500 was 20 years ago.
The “Andretti Curse” continued with Mario’s son, Michael. He raced in 16 Indy 500’s and has the record for leading the most all time laps without winning the race. He met bad luck there also on several occasions where it looked like victory only to end in some mechanical failure or wreck. Jeff Andretti, the youngest son of Mario was in 3 races at Indy without victory and Mario’s grandson Marco [Michael’s son} has had a second place and two third place finishes in his seven races at Indy-but has yet to taste victory. So overall the Andretti’s are 1 for 55 at the Indy 500.