- October 05, 1962
- United States
- Not Active
Michael Andretti, a former racing driver, and current team owner is one of the most popular motorsport personalities in the United States. As a son of the multiple Indy champion and 1978 F1 champion Mario Andretti, Michael was famous since the young age, but he also built an impressive racing career.
Michael scored 42 wins in the CART races, placing himself on the third place in the all-time list. The highlight of his career was 1991 CART IndyCar World Series championship title. In Formula One, Michael Andretti started 13 races in 1993, scoring one podium. In 1983, at 24 hours of Le Mans, Michael's best result overall was third place.
Growing up watching father's racing success
Michael Mario Andretti was born on October 5, 1962, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. At the time of his birth, his father Mario was still a struggling young race car driver, who later became one of the most famous world's racers. While Mario was collecting wins and titles during the 1960s and 1970s, including Formula One title in 1978, Michael was successful karting driver. In 1980, Michael gets SCCA National License and switched from karts to the single-seater cars.
Father and son together at Le Mans
In 1981, he took Northeast Division Formula Ford championship, and the following year he was Formula Super Vee champion. In 1982, Michael and Mario planned to compete together at 24 hours of Le Mans, in the Mirage M12 prototype of the Grand Touring Cars team, but they were disqualified before the start due to an illegal cooler.
IndyCar debut in 1983 with Kraco Racing
In 1983, Michael won the opening race of the Super Vee season before he moved up to another racing series. He won the Formula Mondial North America title and debuted in the CART Indy Car World Series, driving for Kraco Racing. He participated in the last three rounds, retiring in two races (Las Vegas and Laguna Seca) and finishing ninth at Phoenix.
Third place overall at 1983 Le Mans race
In June 1983, two Andrettis returned to Circuit de la Sarthe and partnered Philippe Alliot in the Kremer Racing's Porsche 956. They finished third overall, behind two factory-entered Porsche 956s. It remained Michael Andretti's career-best result at Le Mans. In February 1984, Mario and Michael Andretti started from pole at Daytona 24-hour race, in the #1 Porsche 962, but didn't finish the race.
Racing against father Mario
In 1984, Michael resigned from Kraco Racing to compete full season in the CART Indy Car World Series. He scored five podiums, finishing all five times in the third place. The champion was his father Mario, Michael finished seventh in the points. In his first Indianapolis 500, Michael finished fifth.
Michael scored maiden Indy victory at Long Beach
In 1985, Michael reached only one podium, the second place at Road America, to finish ninth in the points. The maiden Indy Car victory followed on April 13, 1986, in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Later in the season, Michael scored two more wins (at Milwaukee Mile and Phoenix) to finish the championship as a runner-up, eight points behind Bobby Rahal.
One of the races to remember was the fifth round at Portland International Raceway when Michael was leading until the final lap, when he ran out of fuel, so his father beat him for 0.07 seconds. At that time, it was the closest finish in the history of IndyCar.
Indy Car runner-up two years in a row
In 1987, Bobby Rahal and Michael Andretti were again the main championship contenders, but this time Rahal with 30 points advantage. Both drivers won four races each, but Rahal had six more podiums against Andretti's one podium.
Driving Alfa Romeo with Nannini
During 1987, Michael participated in two races of the IMSA GTP Championship, but also in one race of the World Touring Car Championship, driving the Alfa Romeo 75 Turbo at Monza, alongside Alessandro Nannini. In the IMSA championship, his partner at Mid-Ohio 500-km race was his father and they finished 11th in the Hendrick Motorsport's Chevrolet Corvette GTP.
The 1988 Indy Car season was last for Michael in the Kraco Racing team. He scored only one win at Florida's Tamiami Park, to finish sixth in the championship order.
Three Andrettis at 1988 Le Mans race
In June 1988, Michael and Mario Andretti participated for the third time at 24 hours of Le Mans. This time, their co-driver was John Andretti, Mario's nephew and Michael's cousin. They competed in the #19 factory-entered Porsche 962C and finished sixth overall.
Father and son became teammates
In February 1989, Mario and Michael joined Busby Racing to drive #68 Porsche 962 in the 24 hours of Daytona, but they retired due to brake problems. In 1989, for the first time father and son were Indy Car teammates, as Michael moved to Newman/Haas Racing. Michael won two races, Molson Indy Toronto and Marlboro 500 at the Michigan International Speedway, to finish third in the points.
In 1990, Michael was the main rival of the Al Unser Jr., who became a champion. Michael won five races but he was short by 29 points at the end of the season.
Michael was 1991 IndyCar champion
The season 1991 started with three Andrettis in the #00 Jochen Dauer Racing's Porsche 962 at 24 hours of Daytona. Mario and Michael were joined by Jeff Andretti, Michael 's younger brother (born 1964). They didn't reach the finish after Porsche's engine overheated.
In the 1991 CART PPG Indy Car World Series, Michael Andretti clinched his first and only title. He won eight of 17 races in the #2 Newman-Haas Lola-Chevrolet. The start of the season was disappointing, with two retirements at the Surfers Paradise and Long Beach. At Indianapolis 500, Michael finished second. He led most laps and battled Rick Mears for the win in the closing laps.
Four Andrettis in the 1991 Indianapolis 500
The race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was also remembered as the first race in the Indy Car history with four family members participating, as Mario, Michael, Jeff and John Andretti competed against each other. Michael scored the first victory at Milwaukee Mile and later collected eight more wins, to dominantly take the title ahead of Bobby Rahal and Al Unser Jr.
Again runner-up behind Bobby Rahal
Michael remained one more season with Newman/Haas Racing, finishing as a runner-up in the 1992 Indy Car season, for the fourth time in a career. He won five races but Bobby Rahal again became the champion, only four points ahead of Michael.
In 1993, the 1992 F1 champion Nigel Mansell joined Newman-Haas Racing while Michael Andretti moved in another direction, joining Marlboro McLaren Formula 1 team. He was driving the #7 Ford-powered McLaren MP4/8, his teammate in the #8 car was triple world champion, Ayrton Senna.
Disappointing Formula One season with McLaren
The season started badly, with four retirements, all four because of crashes and collisions, including two opening-lap collisions at Brazilian and European Grand Prix. Andretti finally finished the race in May at Circuit de Catalunya, finishing fifth in the Spanish Grand Prix.
After 8th place at Monaco Grand Prix and 14th place at Canadian Grand Prix, Michael grabbed one point finishing sixth at the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours. Three retirements followed at Silverstone, Hockenheim and Hungaroring. At Spa-Francorchamps, Andretti finished eighth. On September 13, Michael finished third at Monza. After scoring first and only F1 podium, Michael left the team. He was replaced by Mika Häkkinen.
One season with Chip Ganassi Racing
In 1994, Andretti returned to IndyCar joining Chip Ganassi Racing. He won the season-opening race at Australian Surfers Paradise. Later in the season, he won Molson Indy Toronto, taking a record fourth win. Michael finished fourth in the points.
In 1995, Andretti returned to Newman/Haas Racing. He won only in Toronto, adding three more podiums, to finish fourth in the standings. Michael was again the championship contender in 1996, winning five races and finishing as runner-up for the fifth time in a career, 22 points behind champion Jimmy Vasser.
In 1997, Newman/Haas Racing switched from Lola chassis to Swift, but it wasn't a successful move. Michael won only one race, the season-opening Grand Prix of Miami, to finish 8th in the points.
One more Le Mans attempt in 1997
In June 1997, Michael and Mario Andretti returned for the last time together to the Circuit de la Sarthe, to competed in the 24 hours of Le Mans in the #9 Courage C36 of Courage Competition. Their co-driver was Olivier Grouillard. They retired after an accident.
Final years with Newman/Haas Racing
In the 1998 CART FedEx season, Michael repeated the similar results as the year before – he won the season-opening Miami Grand Prix and finished eighth in the points. Only one victory was Michael's score in 1999 season, which he ended in the fourth place. In 2000, Newman/Hass Racing was again using Lola chassis and Michael won two races, at Japan's Twin Ring Motegi and sixth time in Toronto. In the final classification, he was 8th.
Michael joined Green brothers in 2001
For 2001, Michael wanted to compete at Indianapolis 500, which was a part of the Indy Racing League. As Newman/Haas Racing refused to enter IRL, Michael joined the Team Green, run by brothers Kim and Barry Green.
All-time winning record in Toronto
In the Motorola-sponsored car, Michael finished third at Indianapolis 500. He continued to compete in the CART FedEx championship with Team Green's Reynard-Honda. He scored one victory and four podiums to finish third in the points. His only win was on the streets of Toronto and he set the record of seven wins at the shore of the Lake Ontario.
Last Indy victory at 2002 Long Beach Grand Prix
The season 2002 was the last full season for Michael in the CART competition. He scored his last career win at Long Beach Grand Prix in April. It was his 42nd victory, placing him in third place on the winners list, behind AJ Foyt (67 wins) and Mario Andretti (52 wins). At 2002 Indianapolis 500, Michael finished seventh in the Team Green's car.
The team entered the 2003 IndyCar season as Andretti Green Racing, as Michael bought the team from Green brothers. He competed in first four rounds of the season, including Indianapolis 500. He led for 28 laps but retired because of mechanical problems.
Four IndyCar titles for Andretti team
Michael Andretti returned to the cockpit of the race car for the 2006 Indianapolis 500, to help his son Marco, an IndyCar rookie, in his maiden Indy 500 appearance. Michael led until four laps to go, then Marco took the lead, but Sam Hornish Jr had the best finish and won the race, ahead of two Andrettis. Next year, Michael participated in his last Indianapolis 500, qualifying 11th and finishing 13th.
In 2007, Dario Franchitti won the third IndyCar title for Andretti's team. In 2009, the team was restructured and renamed to Andretti Autosport, as Michael Andretti as a sole owner. The fourth championship title for the team came in 2012 when Ryan Hunter-Reay became the champion.
New challenges for Andretti Autosport since 2014
In 2014, Andretti Autosport entered two new competitions, the FIA Formula E Championship and Global Rallycross Championship. Andretti's driver Scott Speed became the 2015 GRC champion. In 2016, Andretti Autosport is present in four competitions - IndyCar Series, Indy Light, Formula E and Global Rallycross Championship. One of the team's drivers in the IndyCar Series is Michael's son Marco.
Andretti family is one of the most famous racing families in the world. Mario Andretti was the most successful while Michael lived in the shadow of father's success, but he also did enough to deserve his place in the Motorsport Hall of Fame.