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After Dinner Speaker | Celebrity | Leadership | Motivation | Sports | Teamwork
Mario Gabriele Andretti is often referred to as the greatest racecar driver of all time, having proven himself a winner at all levels of competition. Mario Andretti's skilled and versatile driving has produced some of racing history's most legendary accomplishments. During his career, he has won four Champcar titles, the 1978 Formula One World Championship, and the 1979 IROC championship. Mario Andretti is the only person ever to win the Indy 500, the Daytona 500, and the Formula One World Championship. In 2000, the Associated Press and RACER magazine named him "Driver of the Century." The same year, he was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
Mario Andretti and his twin brother, Aldo, were born in 1940 in Montona in Italian Istria, (today Motovun in Croatia.) After World War II Istria passed to Yugoslavia and his family spent seven years in a displaced persons camp. They waited several years for U.S. visas, finally sailing to America in June 1955. Settling in Pennsylvania, the family of five had $125 among them and did not speak English. Mario and Aldo were 15 years old.
The twins worked in the uncle's garage after school and in 1959 began racing a 1948 Hudson Hornet Sportsman Stock Car. They took turns behind the wheel and in their first four races, each won twice. In the last race of the season, Aldo crashed, fracturing his skull. However, he returned to the sport a year later and raced another 10 years. He retired in 1969 after another major accident caused him substantial injuries. Meanwhile, Mario's career flourished as he won 20 races in the modified stock class in his first two seasons. He went on to win the first of his four Champcar national championships. Mario Andretti repeated as national champion in 1966, finished second in points in 1967 and 1968, and regained the title in 1969.
During the late 60's, Mario Andretti began to test his skill in other forms of racing. From 1975 to 1981, he focused primarily on the Grand Prix circuit, winning 12 more races, and earning 16 additional pole positions. The highlight of his international career was 1978 when he won six Formula One races and became the second (and last) American to win the World Championship. In 1989, Mario Andretti took on what would be the ultimate teammate - his son, Michael. It marked the first father-son team in Champcar history.
In 1991, at age 51, Mario Andretti finished seventh in the point standings, while his son Michael won the championship. He competed that season against his other son Jeff and nephew John, making it the first time four family members raced together in the same series. This celebrated champion campaigned in his final season of Champcar competition on 1994, when he retired from active participation in the sport. With Mario Andretti's last win in 1993, he became the first driver to win Champcar races in four decades and the first to win races in five decades.
Retirement from racing has not slowed Mario Andretti. His name is on a winery in Napa Valley, a car dealership, a chain of gas stations and a distributorship, a clothing line, a coffee table book, car washes, go-kart tracks, car care products, an IMAX movie, video games and replica cars.
Mario Andretti accepts numerous requests to speak to corporate audiences worldwide. He discusses the power of adapting to change, and shares his perspective on how life and business parallel racing. He provides insight on how individuals and companies can win, and how challenges, change, and knowledge can become key factors for success.
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