Mario Andretti: The Andretti Curse

Photo: ISC Archives via Getty Images, Indianapolis 500 winner Mario Andretti
in the STP Clint Brawner Hawk-Ford.

 

Known as the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” the Indianapolis 500 is considered one of the three most prestigious motorsports events in the world. It is the one of the few races that even non-fans recognize. Running since 1911 over Memorial Day weekend, the Indy 500 is a tradition in racing. As is the Andretti family’s shutout. Aside from a single win in 1969, Mario Andretti has failed to win the 500 at Indianapolis.

Photo: Focus on Sport/ Getty Images. Mario Andretti wins the Indianapolis 500
at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1969.

 

The plague of crashes, near crashes, mechanical incidents, weird judgement calls, running out of gas, electrical failures, and one undoubtedly frustrating experience when he finished second after Bobby Unser, who was penalized for passing on the yellow flag and Andretti was declared the winner for four months, then bumped back down to second after Penske appealed the decision on behalf of their driver Unser, has become legendary. Not only has Mario failed to win since 1969, no other member or his talented family has won the 500 at the Brickyard. Thus, the Andretti Curse was born.

Even that historic win in 1969 was fraught. During the practice session, Andretti crashed and suffered facial burns. He raced anyway, starting in the second position. A.J. Foyt initially took the lead, but a pit stop halfway through put him behind, leaving the field open for Lloyd Ruby and Andretti. Ruby’s own pit stop proved disastrous when he pulled away from the pit with a fuel hose still attached. Andretti pulled a head and won by a comfortable margin, securing Andy Granatelli a long sought win with the car. As the legend goes, Granatelli kissed Mario’s cheek in the victory lane, and from them on, no further Andretti’s have won the Indianapolis 500.

However, Marco Andretti is itching to break the curse and 2015 could be his year. After all, if the curse of the Bambino can finally be eliminated, so can the Andretti Curse.

Photo: REBECCA BELLING/AFP/Getty Images. Mario Andretti slams into the
fourth-turn wall 24 May, 1992 during the 76th Indianapolis 500.
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