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Mario Andretti:: The Great Andretti, Second American F1 World Champion

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Name:

Mario Andretti

Born:

28 February 1940

Races:

128

Victories:

12

Pole Positions:

18

F1 Teams:

1968 - 1969 Lotus 1970 March 1971 - 1972 Ferrari 1974 - 1976 Parnelli 1976 - 1980 Lotus 1981 Alfa Romeo 1982 Ferrari, Williams

World Titles:

1

Background:

As a teenager Mario followed European racing for years, watching his hero, Alberto Ascari, win the Mille Miglia and other historic races. When he and his twin brother, Aldo, came to America, it was to conquer U.S. car racing. He borrowed $500 from the bank, grew up in Nazareth, in Pennsylvania, and raced modified stock cars. In the 1960s, Mario graduated from stock cars to oval racing on the IndyCar circuit. In 1965, as a rookie at Indianapolis, he met Colin Chapman, the legendary chief of the Lotus team, who would later hire him to race at his Formula 1 team.

Formula 1 Career:

Mario started on pole position in his first Formula 1 race, the U.S. Grand Prix in 1968, driving for the Lotus team. He competed in Formula One while continuing to race in the U.S. He won his first race in 1971 at the South African Grand Prix, in his first race for Ferrari. He began racing full time in Formula One only in 1975, racing for the Parnelli team.

During 1976 he return to Lotus, and helped the team with his technical input to return to the forefront after a few years in eclipse. There he won the last race of the season at the Mount Fuji circuit in Japan. In 1978 he had a ground effects wing car, the Lotus 78, that was the best of the series. But it broke down too often and Mario had too many crashes and finished third in the series. With the Lotus 79 in 1979, however, he won the title with six wins. Just as with Phil Hill, he won the title at the Italian Grand Prix during a tragedy. Hill won the title after Wolfgang von Trips crashed and died. Andretti's title was won at a race that took the life of his teammate, Ronnie Peterson, who had a crash at the start of the race and died in the hospital that night. Andretti never won any further races in F1, however, but remains the last American to win a Grand Prix.

Mario was voted Driver of the Quarter Century in 1992 by peers and journalists. He was then the oldest winner of an IndyCar race in 1993, at 53 years and 34 days. Known best for his single victory at the Indianapolis 500 in 1969, his biggest achievement was, however, to win the Formula 1 world title in 1978 and become only the second American to do so.

He won 12 Grands Prix races in his 14 seasons in F1, and he also won the IndyCar title four times and the Daytona 500 in 1967. He took part in the Le Mans 24 Hours race and always coveted a victory there, but never won, despite racing there until he was 60 years old.

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