INDIANAPOLIS (WDTN) – With events like Woodstock and the first man walking on the moon, the year 1969 was a memorable one in U.S. history. For race fans, it was memorable for another reason.
50 years ago this month, the one and only Mario Andretti scored the one and only Andretti victory in the Indy 500. Over the years, it’s become one of the most iconic wins of all time, including the famous victory lane kiss from car owner Andy Granatelli.
“Crossing that finish line was just the greatest moment of my life, amazing, like a 900-pound gorilla was lifted off my shoulders. I figured, from here on, it’s going to be easy, we’ll put a half dozen together,” Andretti said.
But instead, the next 49 years brought repeated heartbreak, and what became known as the Andretti curse. Mario, his son Michael, and grandson Marco have led nearly a thousand laps in the 500, with just that one win to show.
“I know we’ve had five Andrettis race here. We have one win out of 80-some tries, so it’s crazy. But for me personally, it was one of my best tracks. Like I said, if it would have been a 400-mile race, I think Andretti would have had a lot of wins,” he said.
But that one win was very special, and you don’t have to look any further at the cover of this year’s program to see this is a big year for both the speedway and the Andretti family.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum has a special exhibit right now honoring Mario’s 1969 win and his legendary career. And grandson Marco will be driving a special tribute on Sunday: his car number 98 will carry the same color and design that took his grandfather to victory lane half a century ago.
“It’s amazing, 50 years, it’s scary how quick time has gone by, but I’m really happy the Speedway is doing what they’re doing to honor Dad, because that was one of the most popular wins out of the 102. It was a big moment for everybody, and it’s cool to celebrate it,” said Andretti.