Mario Andretti, the last American to win a Grand Prix, celebrates 81st birthday

28-02-2021 10:17 | Updated: 28-02-2021 11:10
F1 News
Mario Andretti, the last American to win a Grand Prix, celebrates 81st birthday

Mario Andretti is the last American to become Formula 1 world champion. In fact, he is the last American to win a Grand Prix. Since it has been more than 40 years, he remains a remarkable driver in F1 history. Today he reaches the great age of 81.

Andretti is a special man in more ways than one. Apart from the fact that he is the last American driver to have any success in Formula 1, his career outside F1 is perhaps even more impressive. A career as a racing driver of up to forty years. No one can say the same for him.

Andretti arrived at the highest level of open-wheel racing in the mid-1960s. After several successful seasons (three titles) in America, he made the switch to Formula 1 at the end of the 1960s. The remarkable thing was that during all those years he continued to do the IndyCar championship (then called USAC) on the side. Unthinkable nowadays, of course.

Versatile and (nearly) unstoppable

It did not stop him from becoming world champion with Lotus in 1978. That versatility is also reflected in his record of achievements. Besides the world title, he won twelve Grands Prix, four titles and 52 race victories in IndyCar, and together with A.J. Foyt, he is the only driver to have won both the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500.

He was able to continue these successes well into his late teens. He was 53 when he won his last IndyCar race and 55 when he almost won the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Even up to the age of 63, he could not resist the occasional car test for his son's team. Only this huge crash prevented him from doing so again.

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