The Andretti Curse

Graeme
By
Posted: September 13, 2015


The Andretti Curse refers to a superstitious explanation for the struggles by members of the Andretti racing family in the Indianapolis 500. Members of the family who were actively involved in motorsport failed to win the race under some seemingly very unlucky circumstances.

How did the Andretti Curse Begin?

There have been six members of the Andretti family to participate in the Indianapolis 500 but between them, they have won only one race in 68 starts. That win came in 1969 and it belonged to family patriarch Mario Andretti, who was then a young driver. Since then, Mario did not win the race again till his retirement in 1994. Mario was one of the most successful motorsport drivers in America but somehow, he failed to find success at the Indianapolis Circuit.

Effects of the Curse

The curse affected five members of the Andretti family who were active participants in motorsports.

Mario

Mario was the first of the Andretti surname to participate in the Indianapolis 500. He was one of the most successful drivers in motorsport and his most important accomplishments include four time Indy Car champion, 1978 F1 Champion and 1978 and 1979 IROC champion. He is the only racer to win the Indy 500, Formula One and the Daytona 500. In total, he had 109 career wins and he was the first racer ever to pass 200mph at the Indy Speedway. In addition, Mario was inducted to the IMS Hall of Fame, the IM Hall of Fame, the NSC Hall of Fame and he became driver of the year three times in his career. During the 1969 Indy 500, he had wrecked his car and had serious burns to his face so Aldo,his twin represented him during the qualifying pictures. He made 21 appearances at the Indy 500 after 1969 but only managed to finish four times, quitting on the rest for various car problems. He retired in 1994.

MichaelMarco

Marco Andretti Michael’s son and grandson to Mario. He had the ill luck that the other Andrettis suffered despite otherwise enjoying a successful motorsport career ever since he participated in his first Indy 500 race in 2006. In 2006, Marco faced off with his dad Michael after the latter briefly called off his retirement. In an incident that lends greater credence to the Andretti Curse, both drivers found themselves in the one-two spots in lap 198 but they were overtaken at the finish by Sam Hornish, ending perhaps the best chance ever to undo the curse. This was the second tightest finish in the Indianapolis Speedway history. In 2007, he led through most of the race but he collided with Dan Wheldon and was unable to finish. In 2008 he had the fastest lap in qualifying but somehow ended up qualifying in seventh and then had to make adjustments to his wing on race day that rendered him unable to compete.

Jeff

Jeff is another of Mario’s son, but who had considerably less success than his father and brother Michael. He raced three times at the Indianapolis 500. He finished 15th in 1991, suffered severe injuries in 1992 when he crashed into the wall and crashed again in the 1993 race, becoming the first racer to crash in the newly installed warm-up lanes. In 1992, in a race that summed up the Andretti’s ill luck, Jeff and his father Mario were both involved in crashes that sent them both to hospital with injuries. Michael meanwhile marched on and led for 160 laps with a 30-second lead. He looked certain to win the race but 11 laps from the finish, a fuel pump failure slowed him down and made him uncompetitive.

John

John is Mario’s nephew and Aldo’s son. He also had a successful motorsport career but the same misfortune at the Indy circuit that affected his kin followed him. In seven appearances at the Indy 500 between 1988 and 2009 he did not win a single race at the circuit.

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