Born: February 28, 1940
Home: Nazareth, PA
Mario Andretti and his twin brother Aldo were born into an Italian family in Montona (now Motovun, Croatia), Istria. Their parents were Luigi Andretti, a farm administrator, and his wife Rina. Istria was then part of Italy, but became part of Yugoslavia at the end of World War II as confirmed by the Treaty of Paris. In 1948, the Andretti family left Montona during the Istrian exodus, ending up in a refugee camp in Lucca, Italy. They emigrated to the United States of America in 1955, settling in Nazareth in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley with just $125 to their name. Mario became a naturalized United States citizen in 1964.
Mario Gabriele Andretti (born February 28, 1940) is a retired Italian American world champion racing driver, one of the most successful Americans in the history of the sport. He is one of only two drivers to win races in Formula One, IndyCar, World Sportscar Championship and NASCAR (the other being Dan Gurney). He also won races in midget cars, sprint cars, and drag racing.
During his career, Andretti won the 1978 Formula One World Championship, four IndyCar titles (three under USAC-sanctioning, one under CART), and IROC VI. To date, he remains the only driver ever to win the Indianapolis 500 (1969), Daytona 500 (1967) and the Formula One World Championship (1978), and, along with Juan Pablo Montoya, the only driver to have won a race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Formula One, and an Indianapolis 500. No American has won a Formula One race since Andretti’s victory at the 1978 Dutch Grand Prix. Andretti had 109 career wins on major circuits.
Andretti had a long career in racing. He was the only person to be named United States Driver of the Year in three decades (1967, 1978, and 1984). He was also one of only three drivers to win races on road courses, paved ovals, and dirt tracks in one season, a feat that he accomplished four times. With his final IndyCar win in April 1993, Andretti became the first driver to win IndyCar races in four different decades and the first to win automobile races of any kind in five decades.
In American popular culture, his name has become synonymous with speed, similar to Barney Oldfield in the early twentieth century and Stirling Moss in the United Kingdom.
In 2000, Andretti was named Driver of the Century. In the US, he was the Driver of the Year for three years (1967, 1978, and 1984), and is the only driver to be Driver of the Year in three decades. He was named the U.S. Driver of the Quarter Century in 1992. He was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2001, the United States National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1996, and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1990.