John Andretti, one of racing’s most versatile drivers in the modern era and a member of the famed Andretti family, died Thursday. He was 56.
Andretti, the son of Aldo Andretti and nephew of Mario Andretti, won races in Indy cars, stock cars, sports cars and nearly won a national drag race.
Andretti died of complications related to colon cancer. He is survived by wife Nancy and their three children – Jarrett, Olivia and Amelia.
Andretti Autosport, which is owned by Andretti’s cousin, Michael, announced the passing:
Born in Bethlehem, Pa., Andretti was raised in Indianapolis and raised his family in the Charlotte, N.C., area. His brother, Adam, and son, Jarrett, also raced.
Andretti won a CART race in Australia in 1991 driving for Jim Hall’s VDS Racing team. Two years later he beat reigning NHRA Top Fuel champion Joe Amato en route to the semifinals of the Southern Nationals in Atlanta.
In NASCAR, Andretti won a pair of Cup races, including the 1997 Pepsi 400, the summer race at Daytona International Speedway, stock car racing’s second-largest oval track. Andretti backed that win up with one on the sport’s shortest tracks, Martinsville Speedway, in 1999.
In 2001, Andretti drove a Porsche GT3-R to a win at Watkins Glen, N.Y.
Some of Andretti’s best work occurred on another Indiana track. For years, he spearheaded “Race for Riley,” a charity go-kart race at New Castle Motorsports Park benefitting Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis. It was one of the many examples of Andretti using his connections and engaging personality to attract others to a cause dear to him.
Andretti spent his final years encouraging people to have regular colonoscopies, something he did not have in time to catch his cancer in its early stages.
Sad news today, we lost another great soul to cancer. Rest In Peace John Andretti. Always brought a smile to my face anytime I was around him. What a great driver, competitor, mentor, dad, husband & friend. #checkit4andtetti
Godspeed John Andretti. My first IndyCar teammate. A true racer and great human. I am heartbroken for Nancy, Jarett, Olivia, Amelia, and the entire Andretti family. I will miss your sense of humor the most. Please #checkitforAndretti https://t.co/t7mXYnbaqk
God Speed John Andretti. My heart is heavy with overwhelming sadness. I know his last name was Andretti, but for our family it was always Petty. All my thoughts, prayers and love go out to the entire Andretti Family
It’s difficult for someone with the racing pedigree of @John_Andretti to be remembered first for things away from the track.
But, his legacy will be his kind spirit, warm smile, & tireless work in raising millions for @RileyChildrens hospital.
God speed to an Indy treasure.
If you grew up a sports car nerd like I did in the 80’s and 90’s you loved seeing John Andretti getting to race Indycarsand NASCAR because you felt like he was one of our guys. The High Life 962 is one of the most iconic liveries of my lifetime. What a loss.. #CheckIt4Andretti pic.twitter.com/DlcucPT5kR
We are deeply saddened by the loss of John Andretti. The Andretti family is in our thoughts and prayers. 🙏 pic.twitter.com/65bnJIKAUC
John was one of the nicest guys, always smiling, had a great outlook on life and a fierce competitor on track. Thoughts go out to Johns family, friends and fans, the whole Andretti family, and the Andretti team. Such a tough loss. 🙏 #CheckItForAndretti https://t.co/yfm8V7Ii15
There wasn’t a better soul in racing than John Andretti. A man who won in everything he drove, ever category that he competed in. I spent my #Indy500 rookie year media day with John, and the impression he made on me on that day will last a lifetime. RIP John, you’ll be missed. 🙏🏼
Oh man. I knew this day was coming but feeling heartbroken. John Andretti was an incredible human being. He was passionate and humble. A friend to many. He could drive any type of race car and make every person feel special. #CheckitForAndretti
Thoughts and prayers to the entire Andretti family. 🙏🏻 https://t.co/REYbtXjZ3K
Indianapolis Motor Speedway pays tribute to John Andretti. pic.twitter.com/8ONOq3pnuM
The calendar still says January and we have already lost some truly remarkable people in 2020. Somebody please hit the reset button.
May we all strive to be as generous, thoughtful, and appreciative as John Andretti. A true inspiration to all.