The Andretti Curse, sometimes referred to as Andretti Luck, is in reference to the unexplainable bad luck the Andretti racing family has experienced in their efforts to win the Indianapolis 500. Patriarch and auto racing legend Mario Andretti won the race only once (1969). In victory lane, prolific car owner Andy Granatelli planted a kiss on the young Andretti's cheek. Following the win, Mario never managed to win the great race for a second time by his retirement in 1994. The misfortune at Indianapolis, with a cumulative total (post-2013) of 68 starts as drivers, has notably extended to his sons Michael and Jeff, nephew John, as well as grandson Marco, and to an in-direct extent, to his twin brother Aldo, and former car owner, Paul Newman.
Michael, Jeff and Marco all followed in the footsteps of Mario by winning the Indy 500 Rookie of the Year award, but none of those three, nor John, have yet managed to win the race. Twice, when Michael Andretti's team won the Indianapolis 500, the driver subsequently defected to rival Chip Ganassi Racing the following year.
Mario was the first of the Andretti family to have success in top level motorsport, going on to have a long career and become one of the most successful drivers of all time. During his career, Andretti won four IndyCar titles, as well as the 1978 F1 World Championship, and IROC VI (1978–1979). Andretti had 109 career wins on major circuits which, along with the aforementioned triumphs, features wins in IMSA and USAC Stock Cars as well. He was the first driver to exceed 200 miles per hour while practicing for the 1977 Indianapolis 500.
In addition to his individual wins, Andretti has been enshrined in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, National Sprint Car Hall of Fame, as well as the Automotive Hall of Fame. He was named Driver of the Year three times, and Driver of the Quarter Century as well.
Mario competed 29 times in the Indianapolis 500, with only a single victory in 1969 to his credit, which occurred very early in his career. His quest for a second victory, to no avail, was well documented by ABC Sports by about 1986 and 1987, when the broadcasts began airing features about a perceived bad luck "curse" that had overcome him at the Speedway. Andretti himself even mentioned that "Lady Luck" seemed to be against him at times. Meanwhile, fellow "Brickyard" legends of his era (A.J. Foyt, Al Unser, Al Unser, Jr., Bobby Unser, Johnny Rutherford, Gordon Johncock, and Rick Mears) all racked up multiple Indy 500 wins to their credit. Mario's perceived curse became such a popular "watercooler topic" during the month of May, that some fans were known to have betting pools to guess which lap Andretti would drop out of the race.
From 1911-1968, the 2nd starting position statistically produced the most race winners (9 total), more than even the pole position (which had produced only 7 at that time). In his lone 1969 victory, Mario drove car #2, from the 2nd starting position. It was the 10th time a driver had won the Indy 500 from the 2nd starting position. It would take until the end of the twentieth century for another driver win from the 2nd starting position. In fact, few cars even managed to finish the race from the 2nd starting position in the that period. Juan Pablo Montoya finally broke the streak by winning from the middle of the front row in the year 2000.
Indy 500 troubles
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (March 2012)|
1966: Mario avoided the massive 11-car pileup on the start, and led 16 laps. However, despite the thinned-out field, he dropped out after only 27 laps with a bad valve.
1967: Mario lost a wheel and droped out after only 58 laps.
1968: Mario dropped out after only 2 laps with a bad piston, and finished in last place. A few minutes later, he climbed into his teammate, Larry Dickson's car to drive relief. He did not fare any better, as that car dropped out after 24 laps with another bad piston.
1969: Mario switched to the Granatelli team for 1969. Granatelli had suffered heartbreaking misfortune in 1967 and 1968 with their Turbine-powered machines. Both years, they lost the lead in the final laps when the machines failed to finish. For 1969, he abandoned the Turbine program. During practice, Mario wrecked his revolutionary 4-wheel drive Lotus, suffering burns to his face. A week later, he climbed into his back up car and still managed to qualify for the front row. His twin brother Aldo stood in for him for qualifying pictures. Despite the incident, Mario went on to win the race in impressive fashion. Aldo, however, was not as fortunate, as less than three months later, he suffered a severely fractured face in a career-ending sprint car accident. In victory lane, an ecstatic Andy Granatelli rushed to greet his winner. After several years of heartbreak, he grabbed the victorious Mario and planted a kiss on his cheek. Some have pointed at that moment as the impetus of the curse.
1970: Attempting to defend his victory, Mario qualified in the dreaded "8-ball spot." (8th starting position was considered bad luck at the time; no driver had ever won the race from that grid position, and would not do so until 1985). On about lap 28, Mario was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop due to loose bodywork. He rejoined the race, but lost many positions. He led no laps, and finished a lap down in 6th place.
1971: Mario wrecks out in turn 3 after 11 laps, placing 30th.
1973: At the start, a massive crash involving Salt Walther halts the race. Two days later, the race finally gets going, but Mario completes only 4 laps and drops out with a bad piston. Incidentally, Andy Granatelli, for whom Andretti no longer drove, was the winning co-owner along with Pat Patrick, who Mario would later drive for in 1981-1982.
1974: Mario suffers yet another early drop out, completing only 2 laps. He dropped out with a bad valve, and finished 31st.
1975: Despite racing regularly in Formula One, Mario skips the Belgian Grand Prix to race at Indy. Early on, his car stalls several times while trying to leave the pits, and he lost several laps. He would eventually crash out on the backstretch when a mechanical failure sent his car spinning into the inside wall.
1976: Mario is running a full schedule again in Formula One for 1976, but chooses to race at Indy once again in his first of four starts for car owner Roger Penske in the next 5 years. The Belgian Grand Prix is held the same weekend as pole day time trials, so the conflict prevents Mario from a chance at the pole. On the second weekend of qualifying, he posts the fastest overall speed in the field, but as luck would have it, he is forced to start deep in the field as a third-day qualifier. On race day, Mario was a lap down in 8th when the officials called the race for rain on lap 102.
1978: Mario squeezed in another attempt at Indy during his full-time Formula One effort. Mario plans to qualify at Indy during the first weekend of time trials (which was an off-week for F1). He is quickly up to speed during practice, running an "unofficial" track record of 203.482 mph. He went into the weekend as a favorite for the pole, but the first two days of time trials were rained out. He was forced to leave and go back to Europe for the Belgian Grand Prix. During the second weekend of time trials, Mike Hiss was drafted as a substitute, and qualified the car for Mario (he qualified 8th fastest). Mario himself won at Belgium. On race day, Mario got back in the cockpit and the car was moved to the back of the field due to the driver change. Early in the race, Andretti lost 8 laps when he had to make a long pit stop to change a spark plug wire. He was effectively out of contention very early on, and wound up 15 laps down at the finish.
1981: Driving an STP sponsored car owned by Pat Patrick, Mario finished 2nd in the 1981 race, eight seconds behind winner and former teammate from 1980 Bobby Unser. The following day Unser was penalized one lap for passing cars under a caution flag, and Mario was declared the winner. Unser and his car owner Roger Penske appealed the race stewards' decision. USAC overturned the one lap penalty four months later, restoring Unser as the winner.
1982: Mario had firmly returned to race full-time for Pat Patrick in the CART series. At the start, Mario was tangled up in the infamous Kevin Cogan, who ironically took recently retired defending champion Bobby Unser's place driving for car owner Roger Penske, crash, and was out of the race before the green flag. Andretti's Patrick Racing team mate Gordon Johncock went on to win his second Indy 500, leading Rick Mears over the line by just over a car length.
1983: Mario joins the new Newman/Haas Racing team, with co-owners Carl Haas and Paul Newman. Johnny Parsons spun in front of him in turn one, he was collected, and both cars crashed hard into the wall.
1984: On his first qualifying lap, Mario set a one-lap track record, and appeared on his way to a front row starting position. On the fourth and final qualifying lap, his car quit coming off of turn four, and he coasted across the finish line. He dropped to 6th starting position. On race day, he was in contention to win most of the afternoon, but a broken exhaust pipe was causing his engine to lose rpms. On lap 153, he came into the pits for a routine stop, but Josele Garza cut in front of him down the pit lane, made contact, and damaged Mario's nosecone. The car was too damaged to continue, and he was out of the race (17th finishing position), and Rick Mears, driving for car owner Roger Penske, won by two laps.
1985: One of the most electrifying moments in Indy history came at the expense of Mario Andretti. Danny Sullivan, driving for car owner Roger Penske, passes Mario for the lead in turn one on the 120th lap, but immediately spins into a 360. Andretti somehow avoids contact and regains the lead, and Sullivan managed to keep the car off the wall and drove away. Both drivers pit under the ensuing caution. About 20 laps later, Sullivan passes Mario again, this time cleanly, to go on for the win. Mario had described the 1985 race as his "best chance to win" perhaps in his career, but managed only a disappointing, and somewhat distant, 2nd place. Sullivan broke a 68-year "curse" by winning from the so-called 8-ball spot (8th starting position), the first driver ever to do so.
1986: After qualifying 5th on pole day, Mario badly wrecked his car in a mid-week practice run. The car was sent to England for repairs, but didn't make it back in time. On race day, he was forced to start an unproven back-up car at the rear of the field. The car lasted only 19 laps, and he finished 32nd.
1987: Mario dominated the 1987 event, and in fact, the entire month of May. He won the pole position, the pit stop contest, and led the daily practice speed chart every day he took practice laps. Driving the new Ilmor Chevy Indy V-8, He led 170 of the first 177 laps, giving up the lead only during pit stops sequences. He had such a big lead that he backed off, but the reduced revs created a harmonic imbalance in his Ilmor/Chevrolet engine that led to a broken valve spring with 20 laps to go. Al Unser, of the rival Unser family driving for car owner Roger Penske, won his record-tying fourth Indy 500 after Andretti's, and later Roberto Guerrero's, who ironically drove an STP sponsored car owned by Andy Granatelli's son Vince, misfortunes.
1988: Mario was the fastest driver in practice all week, leading the charts at 221.565 mph. On the morning of pole day, he drove a practice lap of 220.372 mph, second only to Rick Mears (222.827 mph). Mario drew the coveted first qualifying attempt, but his qualifying speed was curiously slow and disappointing (214.692 mph). On race day, his car was plagued with problems. About 30 laps into the race, a gearbox bearing failed and created an oil leak. A long pit stop was needed to make repairs. Later in the race, an ignition problem forced another series of long pit stops to change various electrical components. With the leaders at lap 170, Mario was about 50 laps down, when the team finally called the day quits with a dead engine. Mario was credited with 118 laps in 20th place.
1989: Around the halfway mark, Mario was forced to the pits with a throttle problem. After losing several laps, Mario returned to the track after repairs. Mario found himself running at the finish, albeit 7 laps down in 4th place, which is considered an unusually large deficit for fourth place in the modern era. The 1989 race marked the first year he was teamed-up with his son Michael, who blew an engine while leading.
1990: Mario was running as high as third until his second pit stop. He pitted on lap 45, but as he was exiting the pits, the caution flag came out, and he lost a lap. On lap 60, he dropped out with engine trouble, finishing 27th.
1991: Late in the race, Andretti was running in the top five, although a few laps down. On lap 188, Mario's son Michael Andretti took the lead on a restart, passing Rick Mears, driving for car owner Roger Penske, on the outside of turn one. One lap later, Mears pulled the same move, and re-took the lead. Mears began to pull away, and Michael's hopes for victory began to fade. Suddenly Mario coasted to a stop at the entrance to the pits, bringing out the caution. A mild controversy emerged when observers speculated that Mario had stopped on purpose to help Michael. The field bunched up under the yellow, and the caution gave Michael one last chance to challenge for the win. Mears pulled away on the restart, and the controversy eventually fizzled.
1992: At the start, Mario and his son Michael led the field into the first turn. Michael came around in first, and Mario already a somewhat distant second. On the 5th lap, a caution came out. Mario ducked into the pits with a misfire. After several pit stops, the problem was fixed and he returned to the track, but dropped down the standings a lap down. Later in the race, Mario pitted for tires, and cross-threaded a wheel nut. He was again shuffled down in the running order. A few moments later, on a restart, he crashed in turn four. He was among several front-runners to crash due to cold tires on the unusually cold afternoon. Mario suffered broken toes, and was taken to Methodist Hospital in downtown Indianapolis for surgery. A short time later, Mario's son Jeff shattered both of his legs in a terrible crash, and was also taken to the hospital. Both required considerable rehabilitation, although Jeff's was significantly more severe. Back at the track, Mario's other son Michael was dominating the race, and looked poised to win. However, with 11 laps to go, his car quit, and he was out of the race. Ironically, the rival Unser family prevailed over the dismayed Andrettis yet again, with Al Unser Jr. winning and Al Unser Sr. finishing third. In his autobiography Andretti, Mario described the day, which saw him laid up in a hospital bed, witnessing his youngest son's serious injury, and then woke up to hear the news that his other son Michael had lost, as the "worst day of my life."
1993: The 1993 race was Andretti's last notable run, and he had just come off a victory at Phoenix. On pole day, Andretti was the first car to complete a qualifying run, and sat on the provisional pole position. Mario's speed held up all afternoon, but with less than an hour to go, Arie Luyendyk topped his speed, and took the pole. On race day, Mario was a factor most of the afternoon, leading the most laps (72). While leading on lap 134, Mario was penalized for entering the pits while they were closed. A stop-and-go penalty dropped him only down to second place. In the final 50 laps, he began developing handling problems, and slid down the standings to finish 5th.
1994: Mario's last race at Indy. He entered with much fanfare through his "Arrivederci Mario" tour. His race was very short though, and he dropped out early due to mechanical problems.
In total, Mario finished the full 500 miles just five times, including his lone victory.
2003: On April 23, 2003, in the lead up to the 2003 Indy 500, Mario took to the track for the first time in ten years in a major open wheel car. He participated in a test session for son Michael's AGR IndyCar team. One of the team's regular drivers, Tony Kanaan, suffered a radial fracture of his arm on April 15 a crash a week earlier at Motegi. If Kanaan was not cleared to drive in enough time, tentative plans were being prepared for Mario to qualify the car for him. He would turn the car over to Kanaan on race day. No plans had yet been made though for Mario to actually drive in the race.
During the test session, it was noted by many observers that despite his lack of experience in modern Indy cars (which had changed substantially since his retirement) and his advanced age (63), he quickly reached competitive speed. He was quickly over 212 mph, and looked "as if he had never been away." The success of the testing caused growing speculation during the afternoon that Mario may even attempt to qualify for the race.
With only 2 minutes left in the day, Kenny Bräck crashed in turn one, and the yellow light came one. Mario entered turn one at full speed, and struck debris on the track from Bräck's car. The object, identified by most as the rear wing, forced the nose of Mario's car to become airborne, and the car went into a rapid double reverse somersault at speeds exceeding 200 miles per hour. Television footage from the WTHR helicopter-cam showed that the car clipped the top of the debris fence, and was nearly high enough to go over it. The car fell back to the ground, slowed by its mid-air tumble, and slid to a stop. Luckily, the car landed right side up and Andretti walked away from the crash with very minor injuries.
Mario initially shrugged off the accident, and still contemplated returning to qualify the car in May. A day later, however, he reconsidered, and has not climbed back into a race car. This was Mario's last significant on-track activity at Indianapolis to date.
Indy 500- Races involved in crashes
- 1967 (lost wheel), 1969 (practice), 1971, 1975, 1982, 1983, 1986 (practice), 1992, 2003 (testing)
Indy 500- Races suffering mechanical/engine failure
- 1966, 1967, 1968, 1972 (ran out of fuel), 1973, 1974, 1977, 1980, 1984, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1994
Indy 500- Races leading the most laps without winning
- 1985, 1987, 1993
Mario Andretti and Le Mans
Mario's run of bad luck also extends to his many attempts at Le Mans, which began with his 1966 debut, sharing a Holman & Moody Ford MKII with Lucien Bianchi, as they had been at the top 10, their car dropped a valve at 10:30 pm, causing them to retire. Further bad luck continued for the 1967 race, as he was driving, his front brake locked, causing him to crash his Holman & Moody Ford MKIV at the Esses, his fellow team-mates, Jo Schlesser and Roger McCluskey driving MKIIB GT40s attempted to avoid Andretti's GT40 and crashed, but managed to avoid his car. McCluskey managed to pull Andretti to safety, which he had to be taken to hospital. Mario would not return to the French classic until the end of his F1 career in 1982 with an enormous fanfare, partnering with son Michael in a Mirage M12 Ford. Despite having qualified 9th place, the pair found their car being removed from the starting grid 80 minutes before the start of the race, as an official discovered an oil cooler that was mounted behind the gearbox, contravening the rules, despite managing to pass initial scrutineering four days ago. Despite protests and complaints, the Andretti's entry was removed altogether, replaced by a Porsche 924 Carrera GTR. Despite a formal complaint, team owner Harley Cluxton, who took over the Mirage name from original founder John Wyer, would never return to the race again.
Their return for the following year was more successful as they finished third as well as their return in 1988 with John which they finished 6th in a factory Porsche 962. Following Mario's retirement from full-time racing, he decided on a return to the Sarthe circuit to add a Le Mans victory to his achievements in 1995. While showing potential to win the race, a number of disorganized mishap, including being pulled over to the pits at the closing period while leading the race to clear grime off the car to make the sponsor's decal visible resulting in a 2nd place. His efforts for the following years proved to be unsuccessful with a 13th place for 1996 and a DNF for 1997. His final appearance was in 2000 when he managed to finish 15th.
Michael is the son of Mario, and is the driver whom the Andretti Curse is equally as associated. Despite a successful career including a CART championship and a stint in F1, he has so far been unsuccessful in 16 attempts at winning the Indianapolis 500. He has completed the most laps, as well as led the most laps, of any driver who has never won the famous race. He is considered by some the best driver never to have won.
1984: Michael Andretti starts his career at Indianapolis on a positive note driving for Kraco Enterprises with crew chief Barry Green, starting 4th, finishing 5th and sharing the Rookie of the Year award with Roberto Guerrero.
1985: Michael out-qualifies his teammate Kevin Cogan, but both cars are mid-packers at best. On race day, Michael finished 8th, four laps down, not as good as his rookie debut. Later in the year, Michael and Cogan are involved in a helicopter crash, but survive.
1986: Michael out-qualifies his father Mario and starts on the outside of the front row. He proceeds to lead the first 42 laps, and is among the fastest cars on the track. A poorly executed fuel strategy, however, forces him to pit with only 7 laps to go, and drops him to 6th place one lap down.
1988: With only a few laps remaining, a piece of bodywork falls off his car, bringing out the yellow, and forcing the race to finish under caution. Driving the now-aging Cosworth DFX proved to be a horsepower disadvantage, as Michael was unable to keep up with the Chevrolet Indy V-8's as well as the Buicks, particularly down the long straights. However, he still managed a 4th place, owing to the numerous yellows (14) which kept the field bunched up.
1989: Michael joins his father at Newman/Haas Racing. In one of his best races to date, Michael works his way to the lead in the second half. After leading 35 laps, his engine blows on the mainstretch just past the 400-mile mark.
1990: Early in the race, a brake fire causes Michael to lose considerable time in the pits. He eventually drops out with a vibration.
1991: Michael leads 97 laps, and appears to be on his way to win. With 18 laps to go, he leads Rick Mears, driving for car owner Roger Penske, by 15 seconds, but needs to make one final pit stop for fuel. A timely caution flag flies and loses minimal ground as he pits under the yellow. On the ensuing restart with 13 laps to go, he makes a daring pass on the outside in turn one to grab the lead from Mears. On the very next lap, Mears steals the thunder as he makes exactly the same counter-move and quickly pulls out to a lead. Moments lapse, Michael's father Mario suddenly coasts to a stop at the entrance to the pits. The yellow flag flies again, and bunches up the field. Many accused Mario of stopping on purpose in a ploy to aid his son. Whatever the case, the point is moot as Mears pulls away to the victory. Michael settled for second. This race was the first to feature four Andrettis, (Mario, Michael, Jeff, and John).
1992: Michael dominates the 1992 race, leading 160 of the first 189 laps. With only 11 laps to go he was leading by over half a lap. His fuel pump suddenly failed and he coasted to a stop. He settles for 13th place.
1993: Michael sits out the 1993 event, due to his now ill-fated participation in Formula One.
1994: Michael returns to the CART series and Indianapolis for 1994 driving for car owner Chip Ganassi. In the first half, however, he suffers a flat tire, and loses a lap to the field. He finishes fourth on the track, but a late-race pit road speed infraction earns a one-lap penalty. He drops to 6th in the final standings.
1995: While leading on the 77th lap, Michael approaches lap traffic and brushes the wall in turn four. His suspension is too damaged to continue, and he finishes 25th.
2001: Michael follows suit with other CART teams and returns to race at Indianapolis. He leads 16 laps, and is leading the race during a rain delay just beyond the halfway point. Had the race been halted due to the rain, he could have been declared the winner. The red flag, however, does not come out at the time and the race resumes. A punctured tire, and a minor collision in the pits with eventual winner Hélio Castroneves, driving for car owner Roger Penske, slow him down, and at the end of the day, Michael settles for 3rd place.
2002: Nearing the end of his full-time driving career, Michael is not much of a factor, starting 15th and finishing 7th.
2003: A highly publicized "final start" at Indianapolis sees Michael a race favorite. After financial troubles in CART, Michael purchased majority ownership of Team Green and renamed it Andretti Green Racing. After leading 28 laps, Michael drops out of his final race before the halfway point, much like his father in 1994.
2004: Now a full-time owner, Andretti's team quickly became one of the top organizations in the Indy Racing League, and proved to be very competitive at Indy. Rain shortens the 2004 race, however, and Andretti's team finds itself in a notable but frustrating result of finishing 2nd-3rd-4th.
2005: Andretti's team breaks through as Dan Wheldon wins. After Wheldon's win, Andretti tells the media, "No more curse" as he shares in the milk celebration. Sitting on the sidelines, however, proved to be motivating, and in December, Michael announced he would come out of retirement to race in 2006 with his son Marco.
2006: In December 2005, Michael announced he would come out of retirement to race with his son Marco at Indy in 2006. Michael was an also-ran most of the day, but managed to stay on the lead lap all day. During a caution on lap 160, Michael (along with Sam Hornish, Jr.) ducked in to the pits to top of his fuel, in hopes of going the rest of the race without another stop. After the leaders sequenced through yellow flag pit stops, Andretti remarkably inherited the lead on lap 194. The race went back to green with 4 laps to go with Michael leading, and his son Marco behind him in second place. A lap later, Michael is quickly overtaken by Marco, who appears on his way to victory in his first race. Michael attempts some mild blocking, in order to protect his son's lead, but he is quickly passed by Sam Hornish, Jr., driving for long-time rival car owner Roger Penske, Marco ends up losing the lead on the final straightaway to the finish line, and the father and son Andrettis settle for 2nd and 3rd.
2007: In the wake of the 2006 near-miss, Michael returns for yet another encore, but experiences little success. He led one lap during a sequence of pit stops, but finished a lowly 13th. After the frustration, and in an effort to concentrate on his team cars, Michael announces he will again retire from driving.
Indy 500- Races involved in crashes
- 1995 (brushed wall)
Indy 500- Races suffering mechanical/engine failure
- 1987 (pit fire), 1989, 1990, 1992, 1994 (flat tire), 2003
Indy 500- Races leading the most laps without winning
- 1991, 1992
Andretti Green Racing / Andretti Autosport
At Andretti Green Racing (now known as Andretti Autosport), a three-time Indy Racing League champion—in 2004 (with Tony Kanaan), in 2005 (with Wheldon) and in 2007 (with Franchitti) -- the team has felt an unfortunate string of the curse.
Twice, the curse seems to have risen to the top of Michael's budding dynasty, and both times the beneficiary has been Chip Ganassi. Both times the Andretti Green Racing team has scored the win in the Indianapolis 500, the winning driver has defected to rival Chip Ganassi Racing for the ensuing season, with Dan Wheldon jumping to CGR's IRL team, and Dario Franchitti to CGR's NASCAR team. Franchitti later went on to win at Indy again for Gansssi in 2010 & 2012.
Indy 500 - Races won as car owner, winning driver defects to rival team
In 2011, the entire five-car Andretti Autosport team struggled to get up to speed at Indy - the second year in a row that has occurred. After putting only one car in the field on pole day, the team was faced with finding enough speed to get its other four cars qualified. As bump day wound to its conclusion, team driver Mike Conway exhausted his three attempts and was too slow to qualify. Marco Andretti found himself on the bubble, and Ryan Hunter-Reay was the second slowest. Marco was ultimately bumped, but was able to make one last effect to qualify. However, Marco was faced with the situation of missing the race, or bumping out his teammate. When time trials closed, Marco was in and Hunter-Reay was out. A day later, a deal was made with Foyt Racing to put Hunter-Reay in as Foyt's second driver - a move that was deemed very unpopular by fans. Later that year on 16 October 2011, the team signed a multi-year deal with reigning Indy 500 driver Dan Wheldon to replace Danica Patrick for the 2012 season. However, Wheldon was killed later that day in a large accident at the IZOD IndyCar World Championship.
Marco is the son of Michael and the grandson of Mario. He has qualified for the Indy 500 seven times.
2005 Indy Pro Series: Marco's first trip to Indianapolis had him finish 16th, two laps down, in the 2005 Freedom 100 for the Indy Pro Series. Marco marked the first Andretti win at the Brickyard since 1969 by winning the 2005 Liberty Challenge Indy Pro Series race on the infield road course three weeks later.
2006: Marco joined his father's Andretti Green Racing IndyCar Series team for 2006. His first Indy 500 saw him narrowly miss a historic victory. A crash by Felipe Giaffone instigated a caution period on lap 191. Marco's father Michael took the lead on lap 194 under caution when cars ahead of him made pit stops. At this stage, Marco was immediately behind his father in second place. One lap after returning to green-flag racing, Marco put a passing move on his father and took the lead, seemingly on the way to victory. However Sam Hornish, Jr., recovering from a penalty earlier in the race, was closing quickly.
Michael attempted to block Hornish as much as possible for his son, but Hornish got by and drove up behind Marco with 2 laps to go. Marco held Hornish off as long as possible, however Hornish managed a last gasp pass in the last 400 feet before the finish line winning by 0.0635 seconds. It was the second-closest finish in the history of the Indy 500, behind only the 1992 race. Many consider this to be the saddest event in Michael Andretti's racing history, with a father-son 1st-2nd finish being spoiled by Hornish, driving for long-time rival car owner Roger Penske.
Third-place finisher Michael had high praise for his son: "I felt so bad for Marco, but I'm so proud. He drove a hell of a race. I drove with him a hell of a lot in that race. He drove like a champion. He drove like he's been out there 10 years." But Marco wanted more: "Second's nothing," he said. Clearly, the disappointment hasn't softened. "I took a lot of criticism for my reaction then," he says. "But I don't see much value in second place. I'm still bothered by it. I never lifted. If I had put my foot down any more, it would have gone through the floorboard. It was all about speed at the end, and I have no idea how they [Hornish's team] could have put up the numbers they did on that last lap. It's still fishy." He is asked what the Hornish team could have done. "There are things," he says. With that, the topic, still obviously a bad memory, is closed.
2007: In a rain-interrupted race, Marco was a front runner for most of the afternoon. Marco took the lead on lap 102 during a caution, and rain was swiftly approaching the Speedway. Since the race was beyond the halfway point, if rain washed out the remained of the race, it could have been declared official. With the weather in mind, the restart on lap 107 could have decided the race. Tony Kanaan got the jump into turn 1 on the restart, and took the lead. The red flag came out for rain on lap 113 with Marco sitting in second place. Three hours later, however, the track was dried, and the race resumed. Late in the race, Marco was involved in a spectacular crash with Dan Wheldon on the backstretch eliminated him from competition. His car flipped upside down after making contact with Wheldon's wheel, slid to the infield, and then righted itself. Marco was unhurt. The race ended moments later when the rain returned.
2008: Returning for his third Indy 500, Marco posted the fastest practice speed of the month, 228.318 mph, the morning of pole day time trials. Initially a favorite for the front row, his qualifying effort, however, was a visibly disappointing 7th. On race day, Marco was a strong contender, and led in the second half, but was not without incident. On the 106th lap, Marco was battling for second and dove under teammate Tony Kanaan in the third turn. The move unsettled Kanaan's car, and Kanaan slid high and into the wall, then collected the car of Sarah Fisher. Marco was immediately blamed for the crash. While running second on lap 156, Marco pitted and the crew made a "trim" adjustment of his rear wing. The change shuffled him back to 4th, and rendered him uncompetetive for the final few laps. Marco settled for 3rd place.
2009: On the first lap of the race, Mario Moraes drifted to the outside and made contact with Andretti, sending both cars into the wall going into the second turn. Andretti was out of the race before completing a single lap. Neither driver was injured in the collision. But Andretti returned briefly later in the race. Moraes held the view that Andretti ran into him, and both drivers expressed their frustration to the TV crews. Andretti said that Moraes is "clueless," while Moraes believed that Andretti checked down on him.
2010: The entire Andretti Autosport team struggled to get up to speed during time trials, but Marco led the team with a team-best 16th starting position. On race day, he worked himself up to the top 5 late in the race. In the closing laps, Marco got shuffled up to 3rd place as drivers were running low on fuel and being forced to pit, with Marco's car containing barely enough fuel to make it to the finish. Marco slowed to laps in the high 190 mph-range, and coasted on fumes to the final lap. During the last lap, Marco was passed by Alex Lloyd, Scott Dixon and Danica Patrick under yellow resulting in him finishing in an unofficial 6th place. Several hours after the race, however, race officials reviewed the finish and Marco was restored to 3rd place.
2011: For the second year in a row, the entire Andretti Autosport team struggled to get up to speed during time trials. On Bump Day, Marco was bumped from the field, and was in danger of missing the field. He managed to get out on the track before the 6 o'clock gun, and successfully bumped his way into the field - but in the process, bumped out his teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay. On race day, he started 27th, and worked his way into the top ten. Marco was called into the pits to top off with fuel during a caution on lap 154, and to make a trim adjustment of the rear wing. The stop put Marco out of sequence with the other leaders, but ended up being a poor decision. Marco lost valuable track position when another caution came out 4 laps later, and the adjustments made his car difficult to handle. He ended up 9th.
2012: The Andretti Autosport cars were fast the whole month. On race day, Marco stormed to the lead and led 59 of the first 90 laps. He faded and eventually smacked the wall on lap 187, ending his run. He ended up a pitiful 24th after having the dominant car.
Indy 500- Races involved in crashes
- 2007, 2009, 2012
Indy 500- Races leading the most laps without winning
Jeff is the son of Mario, and the brother of Michael. He has driven in the Indianapolis 500 three times (and failed to qualify on two other occasions).
1990: Jeff's first attempt at Indy wound up short. He had a wreck during practice the day before pole day, which coupled with several days of rain, kept him off the track for nearly a week. He completed a qualifying run on the third day of time trials, but his speed was 4th-slowest. On bump day, he was bumped from the field with less than 15 minutes remaining.
1991: Jeff returned for a more successful attempt at Indy. He qualified an impressive 11th, and finished the race in 15th. Though he was not actually running at the finish, he was the highest-placed rookie, and won the rookie of the year award. He became the third Andretti, after his brother Michael and father Mario, to win the rookie of the year.
1992: During the first half of the race, the rear brake rotors kept slipping out of place. Just after the halfway point, the right rear wheel hub broke from his car at turn 2 and he crashed violently head-on into the wall, severely injuring both his legs. He placed 18th.
1993: Jeff returned to Indy after recovering from his injuries in 1992. He experienced the rather dubious distinction of becoming the first driver to spin out on the newly constructed warm-up lane during practice. It would be his final start at Indy, and on race day it ended with a crash.
Jeff's 1992 crash effectively curtailed his - although he returned to racing shortly afterwards, he never achieved a level of success in subsequent competition in the Indy 500, Indy Lights, and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. In 2011, Jeff Andretti served as the driver coach for rookie Ho-Pin Tung, who crashed during his qualifying attempt, and was unable to qualify.
John is the son of Aldo (Mario's twin brother) so he is Michael and Jeff's cousin. He has had a long and successful career in several forms of motorsport, including wins in NASCAR, CART, and the 24 Hours of Daytona. He has also competed in NHRA drag racing. The majority of his career has been spent in NASCAR.
John has 12 starts at the Indianapolis 500, with a best finish of 5th in the 1991 event. This includes a gap of thirteen years between the 1994 race and the 2007 race. Though his misfortunes have not been as pronounced as his fellow family members, his success has been notably mediocre.
- 1988: In his rookie year at Indy, John drops out after 114 laps due to engine trouble. He would suffer a serious crash later in the year at the Pocono 500, but he recovered.
- 1989: Driving for Vince Granatelli, John spun out exiting the pits on his second pit stop. Shortly after, he had an ignition failure in his Buick, and dropped out after 61 laps.
- 1990: John switched the Porsche Indy Car team. On lap 136, after battling a loose condition, John brushed the wall in turn four. He proceeded down the front stretch, and spun lazily in turn one. He did not hit the wall, but the suspension was damaged, and he had to drop out.
- 1991: John switched to the Hall VDS team, and won the CART season opener at Surfer's Paradise (his first career victory). It would be his best finish at Indy, 5th place, three laps down.
- 1992: John was not a factor during the race, but avoided the numerous accidents to finish 8th.
- 1994: John attempted an unprecedented racing feat, driving in both the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 in the same day. Driving for Foyt once again, John balanced his time well between both tracks, and qualified for both races. He came home 10th at Indy, then flew immediately to Charlotte Motor Speedway. He dropped out, however at Charlotte.
From 1994-2006, John primarily raced in NASCAR, and did not compete in the Indy 500. He drove in the Brickyard 400 from 1994–2003, with only one top ten (7th in 1998), and he finished last in 2003.
- 2007: John returned to Indy for the 2007 race. He lost a mirror early on, then crashed near the halfway point.
- 2008: Running at the finish, John was never a factor. He finished a lap down in 16th place.
- 2009: John entered in a joint-effort with Richard Petty. On the second day of qualifying, he badly crashed his primary car, and the team was forced to make repairs, since he had no backup. On Bump Day, John's first attempt was bumped, and his second attempt was too slow. He finally made the field on his third attempt with 5 minutes remaining in the day. On race day, he was the last car on the lead lap, finishing a mediocre 19th.
- 2010: John entered in a joint-effort with Richard Petty and Andretti Autosport. Though the entire Andretti team had trouble getting their machines up to speed during qualifying, John put in a safe speed on bump day without incident. On race day, John wrecked on the backstretch on lap 62 and finished 30th.
- 2011: John finished three laps down.
- 2012: John was unable to secure a ride for the 2012 race.
Paul Newman & Newman/Haas Racing
Starting in 1983, Paul Newman joined the ranks of CART owners, teaming with Carl Haas to form Newman/Haas racing. In their first year, Mario Andretti signed as primary driver, an arrangement that would carry Andretti through the remainder of his career, until his retirement in 1994. Michael Andretti joined the team from 1989–1992 and again from 1995-2000. During the 1980s, and for the better part of the 1990s, the team was closely aligned with the Andretti family.
Like the Andretti family, Newman's team experienced tremendous success in Indy car racing, with the notable exception of victory at Indianapolis. During Newman's tenure, the team won over 100 Champ Car races and eight season championships. With Mario and Michael at the helm, as well as other championship drivers over the years, such as Nigel Mansell, Paul Tracy, and Sébastien Bourdais, the team has failed to achieve victory of any sort at Indianapolis.
Along with Mario's and Michael's many misfortunes during the 1980s and 1990s, Newman/Haas Racing's misfortunes at Indy include several near-misses and crashes. In 1996, the Indy car split saw Newman/Haas (and Newman in particular) take sides firmly with the CART contingent. The team would not return to Indianapolis until 2004.
- 1993: Nigel Mansell was leading the race with 16 laps to go when his inexperience on ovals saw him misjudge the restart speed. He was quickly passed by pole sitter Arie Luyendyk, driving for car owner Chip Ganassi, and eventual winner Emerson Fittipaldi, driving for car owner Roger Penske, and fell to 3rd at the finish.
- 1994: After Mario Andretti dropped out early, Nigel Mansell was the team's only car left. Around the halfway point, Mansell was involved in a bizarre crash where Dennis Vitolo landed on top of Mansell's car.
- 1995: Paul Tracy, former driver for Roger Penske from 1992-1994, dropped out with mechanical problems and Michael Andretti's day ended when he brushed the wall while leading.
From 1996-2003, Newman/Haas Racing did not enter at Indy due to the CART/IRL "split."
- 2004: Bruno Junqueira was leading the race on lap 150, hoping to stretch his fuel and be leading the race when expected rain arrived; which could have given him the race victory. He was forced to pit, and finished 5th when the race was called on lap 180.
- 2005: Both Bruno Junqueira and Sébastien Bourdais were factors, but both crashed out.
The team skipped the 2006-2007 races.
- 2008: After the open-wheel unification, and what would be Paul Newman's final Indy 500, again both drivers (Justin Wilson and Graham Rahal) crashed out.
- 2009: In the first race after Newman's death, Graham Rahal wrecked out early for the second year in a row. Robert Doornbos did not last long either, as he wrecked out before the halfway point.
- 2010: The team entered only one car for Indy (Hideki Mutoh), and he dropped out after only 76 laps.
- 2011: The team entered two cars. Oriol Servià qualified for the front row, and was a factor on race day. After the pit sequences at the end, he wound up only 6th. Rookie James Hinchcliffe lost a wheel exiting the pits, spun and hit the inside wall, placing 29th.
- 2012: The team initially entered with a Lotus for Jean Alesi, but withdrew.
- Oreovicz, John (2011-02-11). "Gone, but never to be forgotten". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2011-02-11.
- "Biography". International Motorsports Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2007-02-22.
- "ESPN Classic - Mario Andretti". ESPN.
- "1986 Indianapolis 500 - Live!". ABC Sports. Season 1986. Episode N/A. May 31.
- "1987 Indianapolis 500 - Live!". ABC Sports. Season 1987. Episode N/A. May 24.
- "Greatest 33 Profile: Mario Andretti".
- "Le Mans 1966". The Roaring Forties. Retrieved 2008-05-12.
- The Ford
- Ian Briggs. (1991), Endurance Racing 1981-1991: Osprey Automotive. ISBN 1-85532-228-5
- "Indianapolis Star - Best driver never to win the Indy 500".
- "Video of Michael Andretti stopping during the 1992 Indianapolis 500".
- Andretti luck finally holds at Indy 500: 5/ 30/ 2005
- "Dan Wheldon's death stuns racing world". ESPN. 17 October 2011. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
- "More Frustration for Andrettis". The Indianapolis Star. 2006-05-29. p. R3.
- "Marco Andretti carries name's weight into Long Beach Grand Prix".
- "Marco unable to shake Andretti curse on Pole Day". ESPN.com. 2008-05-10. Retrieved 2008-05-12.
- "Marco Andretti cites adjustments for knocking him off pace". indyStar.com. 2008-05-28. Retrieved 2008-05-28.[dead link]
- "Crash takes out 2 on 1st lap of Indy 500". Yahoo.com. 2009-05-24. Retrieved 2009-05-24.
- Allstate 400 at the Brickyard - John Andretti Career Stats
- John Andretti back at Indianapolis 500 auto race as a darkhorse