Watch Mario Andretti recall his "biggest test"

by Graham Keilloh on 28th February 2019

The great motor sport all-rounder remembers having to push in NASCAR qualifying immediately after his best friend’s fatal accident

Mario Andretti at the 1969 German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring

The inimitable Mario Andretti celebrates his birthday today. He has good claim as motor sport’s greatest all-rounder, with race victories across Formula 1, IndyCar, the World Sportscar Championship, NASCAR, sprint cars and midgets.

Along the way he’s bagged one F1 and four Indycar championships, as well as Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500 wins. On top of it all he’s remained throughout one of motor sport’s greatest ambassadors.

Yet he’s known his share of tragedy too, such as clinching his F1 world title in the same race that his Lotus team-mate and friend Ronnie Peterson was involved in a start line accident that claimed his life.


More: Lunch with Mario Andretti


While for the NASCAR Grand National stock car race at Riverside in early 1967 Andretti was next in line to qualify after the fatal accident of Billy Foster – with whom Andretti was close friends and room-mates with.

And in an In Depth interview with American sports broadcaster Graham Bensinger that we've found below, Andretti explores that harrowing experience; describing it as his "biggest test".

An emotional Andretti also explores in the interview his own approach to dealing with motor sport’s ever-present danger and possibility of death in action. "If you’re going to do it you have to be prepared to take that risk," he says. "And you cannot dwell on that side of it…that’s the worst thing you can do."

 

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