John Andretti, the retired NASCAR and IndyCar driver, has died at the age of 56. Andretti was Aldo Andretti’s son and Mario Andretti’s nephew. Aldo and Mario are twin brothers. Andretti retired in 2010 from NASCAR following 17 seasons of racing. During his career, Andretti competed in 393 races, winning twice and earning 37 top-10 finishes. Andretti’s wins came first in July 1997 at the Daytona International Speedway for Cale Yarborough Motorsports and again, in 1999, at the Martinsville Speedway.
Andretti also appeared at the Indy 500 on five occasions and in total, made 10 appearances in the IndyCar circuit. Andretti was a graduate of Moravian College.
Andretti’s death was confirmed by his cousin, fellow driver, Marco Andretti, who tweeted on January 30, “Rest In Peace #JohnAndretti. The best godfather. Your passion for Motorsport was admirable. Always the good ones we lose too soon. ?? #checkit4andretti.”
Andretti Autosport has also released a statement on the heartbreaking death of John Andretti. The family press release confirmed that Andretti had lost his battle with cancer. The statement referred to Andretti as a “loving husband and father, a devoted son and a trusted cousin. In addition to his racing career, Andretti was also an advocate for Riley Hospital for Children.
Andretti Has Been Battling Colon Cancer On and Off Since April 2017
Andretti’s death comes less than a year after he announced that his colon cancer had returned. He was first diagnosed with the disease in April 2017. Andretti tweeted in March 2019, “Today was not what we hoped would happen but I started back on the #chemocoaster w/o a definite end. Unfortunately, the cancer has returned again. We continue to research options that may be more beneficial. All of the love & support means a lot. #CheckIt4Andretti #silentkiller.” Andretti’s cancer was originally misdiagnosed as a Stage III-A cancer.
In March 2018, Andretti tweeted that he was responding well to chemo and that “We are right on plan!” However, he relapsed in May 2018. When the cancer returned again in March 2019, it was his second relapse.
The Andretti family’s press release on John’s passing said that since his diagnosis, he used “his voice to help spread the word of prevention and early detection. He fought hard and stole back days the disease vowed to take away. He helped countless others undergo proper screening, and in doing so, saved lives.”
Andretti Said in 2018 That He Has Already Beaten the Age She Should Have Lived to
Andretti told the Indianapolis Star in May 2018, “I’m an Andretti. I already beat the age I should have lived to. Growing up when you’re a little bit wild in a race car, I think everybody in our family’s always heard this: ‘You’re not going to live to see 20.’ Then it was, ‘You’re not going to live see 25, then 30.’ But here I am. Still going. Our family’s already been through plenty of trials, and we’re still here. To get taken down by this, well, I’m going to go out giving it the strongest fight I can give it.”
His father, Aldo, retired in 1969 following a bad crash.
Andretti’s Son, Jarrett Is a USAC Sprint Car Driver
Andretti’s son, Jarrett, is a USAC sprint car driver. Jarrett made his debut at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May 2019. Jarrett told the Associated Press that the first thing he did after completing his laps was to call his father. Andretti is quoted as saying, “What was it like?” Jarrett responded by, “Awesome. Just awesome.”
Andretti was quoted in the piece as saying, “The history of our family speaks for itself and what Indianapolis means to us. To have another Andretti participate, it’s very gratifying. It’s the place that you go to make your mark. Of course, there’s good and bad ways to make a mark there. We’ve all done both. But it’s the place you go to be challenged, and this is a big challenge for Jarett.”
Andretti’s Wife, Nancy, Grew Up Close to the Indy 500 Racetrack
Andretti’s family was the subject of a feature in 2001 in Newsweek. Nancy says in the piece that although she grew up close to the Indy 500 racetrack, she didn’t begin following the sport until she began dating the man who became her husband. The couple started dating in high school. They were married in 1987.
Nancy told the magazine about her feelings when Andretti was in the middle of a race, “You can’t do anything about the risks, so I try not to get myself all worked up.” At the time, General Mills was Andretti’s primary sponsor but Nancy’s gluten-allergy forbade her from enjoying any of the company’s products. Following Andretti’s cancer diagnosis, former racing writer for the Indianapolis Star, Curt Cavin, was quoted as saying of the couple, “John and his wife, Nancy, might be among the three nicest people I’ve ever met, and I can’t think of anybody else who belongs in the same category.”