KYLE, TEXAS (November 25, 2013) Central Texas race fans were granted a treat Friday morning as Mario Andretti helped open the new Firestone Complete Auto Care with store manager Don Mack in Kyle, Texas. The event was coordinated with a ribbon cutting with the Kyle Chamber of Commerce.
Not many have driven a race car better than Mario Andretti. He could make a bad car competitive and a competitive car victorious. He won the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500, the Formula One World Championship and the Pikes Peak Hillclimb. He won the Indy Car National Championship four times and was a three-time winner at Sebring. He won races in sports cars, sprint cars and stock cars - on ovals, road courses, drag strips, on dirt and on pavement. He won at virtually every level of motorsports since he arrived in America from his native Italy at age 15. He is a racing icon, considered by many to be the greatest race car driver in the history of the sport.
Assessing his legacy is easy...he drove the careers of three men. He drove with a passion and joy that few have equaled - and he won. Mario Andretti took the checkered flag 111 times during his career - a career that stretched five decades.
And he was competitive all of those years: He was named Driver of the Year in three different decades (the 60s, 70s, 80s), Driver of the Quarter Century (in the 90s) and the Associated Press named him Driver of the Century in January, 2000.
The admiration for Andretti has been for his achievements on the race track. He is in the very elite, top-superstar category of his game. Yet, if you look at his whole life, he has seen the world that most people will never see. And the journey he has made is what made him a very rich man.
Career highlights for Andretti include:
- Four-time Indy Car National Champion (1965, 1966, 1969, 1984)
- Formula One World Champion (1978)
- Daytona 500 winner (1967)
- Indianapolis 500 winner (1969)
- Three-time Indianapolis 500 pole winner (1966, 1967, 1987)
- Pikes Peak Hill Climb winner (1969)
- Three-time 12 Hours of Sebring winner (1967, 1970, 1972)
- USAC National Dirt Track Champion (1974)
- International Race of Champions (IROC) Champion (1979)
- Only driver to be named Driver of the Year in three different decades (1967, 1978, 1984)
- Named Driver of the Quarter Century (1992) by vote of past Drivers of the Year and a panel of 12 journalists
- Named Driver of the Century by The Associated Press (December 10, 1999)
- Named American Driver of the Century by RACER magazine (January, 2000)
- All-time leader in Indy Car pole positions won (67)
- All-time Indy Car lap leader (7,595)
- All-time leader in Indy Car race starts (407)
- All-time leader in wire-to-wire Indy Car victories (14)
- Second all-time in Indy Car victories (52)
- Only driver ever to win Indy Car races in four decades
- Oldest race winner in Indy Car history, with 1993 victory at Phoenix at age 53
- Only driver to win the Indy 500, Daytona 500 and the Formula One World Championship
- From 1961 to 2000, competed in 879 races, had 111 wins and 109 poles (includes all forms of motorsports)
Andretti told the crowd, “It’s great to be in Kyle, Texas and meet so many race fans.”
Andretti spent plenty of time with fans and did not rush them, as the line ran outside the store on a blustery day with temperatures in the 30’s with a light sleet falling.”
Local race fan Hayden Oswalt of Buda, Texas said, “My Dad had told me about him, but after watching his videos on You Tube, he is easily the greatest driver of all time.”