Mario Andretti was born in Montona, Italy (now Croatia), about 35 miles from the northeastern city of Trieste. He was 15 years old when his family came to the United States and within four years he was racing.
Mario started racing stock cars on the dirt tracks of Pennsylvania and never looked back. He now has one of the most storied and remarkable careers in motorsports. His knack for taking a bad car and bending it to his will earned him 111 victories over five decades in virtually every form of racing. He is the only man who has won the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500 and the Formula One World Championship. He won the Pikes Peak Hill Climb and was victorious three times at Sebring. He won the Japanese Grand Prix in 1976 in a torrential downpour and took the F1 World Championship two years later. Mario won four IndyCar National Championships, becoming the first driver in racing history to win both Formula One and IndyCar titles. But his triumphs don’t rest solely on championships. Mario was the first driver to break the 200 mile-per-hour barrier at Indianapolis during a practice run in 1977. In 1993 he set the world closed course speed record on a bumpy Michigan International Speedway, powering around the track at 234.275 mph while exceeding speeds of 250 mph down the straightaway. He set this record at the age of 53 and it stood intact until 1996, a year after the track was repaved. And Mario was as savvy on dirt as he was on pavement. In 1974, he captured the USAC National Dirt Track Championship, becoming one of the only drivers in the history of motor sports to successfully command sports cars, sprint cars, midgets, open wheel and stock cars – on ovals, road courses, drag strips, on dirt and on pavement. Thus, in 2000, both RACER Magazine and the Associated Press named him “Driver of the Century.”
It was Mario’s career in racing that led to his love of wine. He was fortunate while racing to travel the world – racing in Asia, Africa, Europe, North America and South America. And his travels to exotic places – combining great dining with fine wine – led to his ultimate appreciation of wine. When he raced in South Africa, he would try South African wines. In Madrid and Barcelona, he found how good Spanish wines are. Mario found that wherever he was in the world, if he went with the local specialties, he was going to enjoy them.
When he retired from racing at the end of 1994, Mario turned his attention to making wine in Napa Valley, a place he had been visiting for many years. But first he assembled the finest team of experts he could find, including one of the country’s most respected winemakers, Bob Pepi. Established in 1996, the Andretti Winery is committed to the same high standard of excellence that won Mario his driving championships.
For more information on Mario’s life and legendary career, visit his personal website: www.marioandretti.com