April 19

This Day in History

Automotive

Apr 19, 1964:

Mario Andretti competes in first Indy car event

On this day in 1964, Mario Andretti competes in his inaugural Indy car race, in Trenton, New Jersey, finishing in 11th place. The following year, Andretti won the first of his four Indy car championships (also referred to as the U.S. National Championship) and was named Rookie of the Year at the prestigious Indianapolis 500, where he came in third. Andretti went on to become an icon in the world of motorsports. He is the only man to win the Formula One World Championship, the U.S. National Championship (1965, 1966, 1969, 1984), the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500, the 24 Hours of Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring (1967, 1970, 1972) and the Pikes Peak International Hill Club.

Andretti, who was born on February 28, 1940, in Montona, Italy, moved with his family to Nazareth, Pennsylvania, in the mid-1950s. He and his twin brother Aldo bought a 1948 Hudson Hornet Sportsman stock car and began racing it. After competing in his first Indy car event in 1964, Mario Andretti soon went on to become a start in the auto racing world and was known for his versatility--he drove open-wheel cars and stock cars and competed on a variety of tracks. In 1967, he won NASCAR’s Daytona 500 and the following year joined the Formula One Grand Prix racing circuit. In 1969, he won the Indy 500, as well as his third USAC championship and the 12 Hours of Sebring. In 1978, he became the Formula One World Champion; he was only the second American to capture this crown.

Andretti continued racing during the 1980s and into the 1990s. His sons Michael and Jeff also became race car drivers, as did his nephew John Andretti. In 1991, all four men competed on the Indy car circuit, the first family in which four relatives accomplished this feat. Andretti’s grandson Marco also became a competitive driver.

Mario Andretti won the last of his 52 Indy Car victories in 1993. He officially retired from racing in 1994, having competed in 407 Indy Car events.

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