THEM OVER HERE, US OVER THERE
Back in 1965, when Jimmy Clark stated
how impressed he’d been by Indy 500
rookie Mario Andretti, Colin Chapman
told the Italian-born American to call him
whenever he decided to try Formula 1. It
was inevitable that eventually this would
prove too much for Andretti to resist.
Thereafter, many of Mario’s career
decisions were made with the purpose of
making him a better road course driver.
While NASCAR’s Daytona 500, which he
won in 1967 (RIGHT), was a bit of lucrative
fun, his time spent testing and racing the
Ford GT40 was valuable preparation for
the European scene. Mario credits fellow
Ford ace Bruce McLaren as teaching him
the art of driving hairpins and slow turns.
Together, they scored the first of Mario’s
three 12 Hours of Sebring wins in 1967.
DOING IT ALL
There was nothing lucky about Mario
Andretti’s victory in the ’ 67 Daytona
500. He beat his teammate, ’ 65 “500”
winner Fred Lorenzen, in a straight fight.
MARIO’S STOCK ANSWER The following year, Andretti felt ready
to accept Chapman’s offer of a drive in a
Lotus 49 for the Italian Grand Prix. Mario
was quickest in Friday practice, but he
(and fellow U.S. interloper Bobby Unser)
flew back to Indy to take part in the Hoosier
Hundred on Saturday, and FIA rules forbade
F1 drivers from taking part in another race
within 24 hours of a grand prix. Thus he
and Unser’s Italian adventure ended early.
However, come the fall, another chance
to race Chapman’s third Lotus came Mario’s
way for the U.S. Grand Prix at Watkins Glen,
and he beat ’ 68 F1 title protagonists
Jackie Stewart and Graham Hill to pole
position. Those two Brits had shone at
Indy, sure, but that day Mario gave them
a taste of their own medicine, and proved
he could go on to be a Formula 1 star.