Despite several brilliant drives at Indianapolis Motor Speedway between 1965 and his retirement in 1994, Mario landed only one win there, in May 1969. Despite a slipping clutch, an overheating engine and a sticking wheel nut obliging him to run the race on only one set of Firestones, Andretti led 116 of the 200 laps to triumph in Andy Granatelli’s STP-sponsored Clint Brawner-designed Hawk III-Ford.
Although his son Michael scored 42 Indy car wins and led more laps at the Brickyard than even four-time winner Rick Mears, he never drove into Victory Lane – although his team Andretti Autosport has scored five wins there.
Marco Andretti, too, has suffered many misfortunes at the Speedway, which is why his rookie performance in 2006, finishing just 0.0635sec behind Sam Hornish Jr., remains his best result there.
Today the 32-year-old unveiled the retro paint scheme that the #98 U.S. Concrete / Curb Andretti-Herta Autosport-Honda will carry in next month’s 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500, its day-glow red resembling the STP colors on his grandfather’s ’69 race-winner.
“I’m really happy we were able to pull this off,” said Marco who co-owns his car along with father Michael and Bryan Herta. “The color will be hard to miss on track and the car looks great. We’re all very thankful that U.S. Concrete was on board to run the livery and make this year’s car as special as possible. We can’t wait to have a shot at bringing this car to victory lane on May 26.”
The paint scheme emulates Mario’s ’69 livery in the details, too. There’s a black block carrying the car number, a historical Firestone logo and, near the front suspension, the initials “FB”. These represent Frank Boeninghaus, engine supplier for the Hawk.
U.S. Concrete’s chairman CEO, Bill Sandbrook commented: “Marco Andretti is not only a great ambassador for IndyCar racing but for our safety and hiring initiatives as well. His excitement to honor his grandfather continues to show how dedicated he is to honoring his family’s legacy.
“We knew that partnering with the Andretti Autosport team was the best vehicle for us to successfully deliver our sponsorship objectives and this tribute is a shining example of what the entire Andretti family means to auto racing.”
“I was full of pride when I learned that my son Michael was paying tribute to me this way,” said Mario. “The effort his team is going through to present this commemorative car is flattering. Thank you to the team for that effort and also for acknowledging my part in Indy 500 history.
“I am honored to have Marco carry the design from my 1969 car. I hope this winning paint scheme will be a good omen for him and that he’ll get his first 500 victory. When I see the car, it will definitely be an opportunity for reflection. It’s humbling. It is a tremendous compliment to me that this team would look back at my victory and find it worthy of recognition.”
Mario Andretti, Hawk, 1969 Indy 500 winner.