He won the 1978 Formula One World Championship, he is a four-time IndyCar National Champion (1965, 1966, 1969, 1984), he won the Daytona 500 (1967), the Indianapolis 500 (1969), he is a three-time pole winner at the Indy500 (1966, 1967, 1987), won the 1969 Pikes Peak Hill Climb, was a USAC National Dirt Track Champion (1974), has won the 12 Hours of Sebring three times (1967, 1970, 1972). Winner of the International Race of Champions (1979), he was 2nd overall and 1st in class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1995.
He is the only driver to be named Driver of the Year in three different decades (1967, 1978, 1984), holds the all-time IndyCar pole positions won (67), all-time IndyCar lap leader (7,595), all-time IndyCar race starts (407). He is second in all-time IndyCar victories (52) and the is the only driver to win IndyCar races in four decades.
Add to this he is the oldest race winner in IndyCar history and is the only driver to win the Indy500, Daytona500 and the Formula One World Championship, he competed in 879 races, achieved 111 wins and 109 poles.
He is a personal hero of mine and somebody I regard as a true legend of motorsport.
These are his Quick 10…..he is the one and only legend of motor racing…..Mario Andretti.
1. What is your favourite racing circuit?
The long Nürburgring because of its challenges. Appropriately nicknamed “The Great Hell” by Jackie Stewart
2. Who was your racing idol?
3. Who would you regard as your toughest opponent?
It’s impossible to mention just one. Among the toughest I would include AJ Foyt, the three Unsers, Jackie Stewart, my son Michael, Niki Lauda, Dan Gurney. They were all exceptionally tough
4. Considering racers of all time, you are a team principal and money is no object. Which two racers would you have in your team?
At the moment, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastien Vettel
5. If you could invite four famous people to dinner (past and present), who would you invite?
I’d invite Mikhail Gorbachev. It took a lot of courage for him to stand up against the old regime and become an incredible force in ending communism. I’d invite Giacomo Puccini, who wrote some of my favorite operas. I’d invite Julius Caesar because he was such a badass, tougher than shit and had such audacity that I want to see what makes him tick. I’d invite The Pope. And I’d be cooking this dinner – I’d make veal chops!
6. Your personal racing number? What was it and the reason behind it?
I don’t have a personal racing number. I never asked for a particular number. The only number that meant something to me was number one.
7. What is the best race you have been involved in?
1976 Japanese Grand Prix in the rain
8. Is there a race or series you have not competed in that you would like to or had wanted to?
No, I competed in everything I wanted. I don’t feel I left anything on the table
9. How did you get interested in motor racing? What ignited that spark?
The spark was ignited when I went to my first race in Monza in 1954. I was 14-years-old
10. What is the best advice in racing you have been given?
Don’t drive beyond your capability. That was Clint Brawner’s advice to me when I started in IndyCars
I want to thank Mario Andretti so much for agreeing to take part in this Quick 10 interview. As I mentioned at the top of the article he was a childhood hero of mine when the motor racing bug bit me. Fantastic interview with an absolute legend and I would like to wish Mr. Andretti and his family all the best.
See you at the chequered flag.