Michael Andretti


Michael Andretti : biography

October 5, 1962 –

At the start of the 1993 season, Ron Dennis signed Häkkinen as a backup to Senna, who was initially reluctant to commit to the team for the whole season. The F1 Rejects website states that this created a difficult atmosphere for Andretti, who would be in the shadow of the three-time F1 champion Senna, and also faced the threat of being replaced by Häkkinen. F1 Rejects Retrieved 29 June 2008

After Andretti’s unsuccessful Formula 1 season, he never returned to the cockpit in that series.

Return to CART

After McLaren replaced him with Häkkinen, Andretti returned to the CART series for 1994 and drove for Chip Ganassi, where he once again proved very successful. He went on to win in his very first race back in the series at the Surfers Paradise event in Australia, having led every lap along the way. That win also got Reynard’s first win in CART in their debut. In 1995 he returned to Newman/Haas Racing. He finished as runner-up to Jimmy Vasser in 1996 and more race wins followed in the years to come, but his 1991 championship success remained his only title in CART/IndyCar racing.

In 2001, Andretti followed suit with other CART teams and returned to race at Indianapolis, driving for Team Kool Green in a separate effort headed by Kim Green, known as Team Motorola. He led 16 laps, and was leading the race during a rain delay just beyond the halfway point. Had the race been halted due to the rain, he could have been declared the winner. The red flag, however, did not come out at the time and the race resumed. A punctured tire, and a minor collision in the pits with eventual winner Hélio Castroneves, driving for car owner Roger Penske, slowed him down, and at the end of the day, Andretti settled for 3rd place.

His career in CART ended in 2002, in which he took his 42nd and final career victory at the Long Beach Grand Prix – placing him in third place for all-time victories in championship car racing behind his father, Mario Andretti (52 wins) and A.J. Foyt (67 wins).

Andretti is also tied with Al Unser, Jr. for the most wins in a CART/IndyCar season with eight victories. He achieved this during his championship-winning season of 1991.

Semi-retirement and team owner

After competing in the 2003 Indianapolis 500, Andretti retired from full-time IndyCar racing. He led the race for 28 of the opening 94 laps before a throttle linkage failure put him out of contention once again. That year he bought into the "Team Green" squad run by brothers Kim and Barry Green in CART. It became Andretti Green Racing and for 2003 the team moved to the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series.

That year, Tony Kanaan won the 2004 IndyCar Series Championship for Andretti Green Racing. In 2005, Britain’s Dan Wheldon won the Indy 500, and the Championship for the team. In 2007, Scotland’s Dario Franchitti won the Indianapolis 500 and the IndyCar Series title for AGR.

Return to racing at Indy

Andretti returned to the driver’s seat for the 2006 Indianapolis 500 in a one-time effort to assist the development of his son, Marco, an IndyCar rookie for the ’06 season. Michael led the race with four laps to go, before falling to second behind his son a lap later. He went on to finish third, while Marco only just missed out on the 500 victory after he was passed just before the start/finish line on the last lap by three-time Indycar champion Sam Hornish, Jr.

After qualifying his car in 11th place for the 2007 Indianapolis 500, Andretti went on to finish 13th. He then announced that this would be his last Indy 500 as a driver.

Andretti leaves driving competition at Indy with a frustrating distinction – the driver who’s led the most laps (431) without winning the race. He competed in 16 Indy 500s, with a top finish of second in 1991, but led the race nine times.

As a car owner, however, he has far more success. In 2005, only three years after Andretti acquired primary ownership of the team, Andretti-Green Racing (AGR) saw its first 500 triumph come from Dan Wheldon in the #26 Klein Tools Special entry, and in 2007 an even stronger second victory, from Scottish driver Dario Franchitti in the #27 Canadian Club-sponsored car, who won the rain-shortened event at the completion of 166 of the scheduled 200 laps, but after another AGR team driver, Tony Kanaan, had himself led half of the eventual laps, and showed potential of renewing his challenge for supremacy after a fourth turn late-race incident.