Marco Andretti: Staying on Track
Not finishing the season quite as he had hoped, Andretti still has a lot on his side – like his family of tried and true legendary racecar drivers, his crew, his friends and fans – and now even more experience under his seat belt. Oh, and don’t forget the NFL season and playing video games with his brother.
Back in his heyday, Andretti became the youngest winner in 2006 (he was 19 at the time), showing he didn’t need to live in the shadows of his famous racing family and could stand on his own. Now in his ninth season, he comes to the track with a higher level of maturity along with a profound respect and understanding of the sport.
“You don’t know as a rookie, you just do it,”Andretti says of a few things he’s learned during his nine seasons on the track. “You don’t think about it, you just do it. But sometimes ignorance is bliss. I look at a lot of the rookies and they’re just fast –– raw talent. Now with experience, it’s balancing the experience and talent, trying not to overstep the limits of the car, being more consistent, bringing home where the car can finish instead of trying to force the issue somewhere, and maybe have a DNF. It’s just experience, knowing when to keep your foot in certain situations when it’s going to benefit you and when to take those chances.”
Wrapping up the season, Andretti had nothing but a win in mind, noting that a few weekends before the team had a mishap during a routine pit stop. “It’s been pretty brutal – [that race] we came in 3rdin the pit stop in the last stop and came out 14th – it’s just been absolutely brutal and we need to get that monkey off our back. To end the season like that, all of a sudden to have a win on the podium, it can salvage a whole season for us,” Andretti said heading into the last two weeks of the season.
“You work so hard for hundredths of a second and we give up 24 seconds or something like that, but my guys are some of the best in the business–one guy didn’t even sleep that night he was so upset – they all want to win as bad as I did – just bad luck,” he says of how tight-knit his crew is, not to mention how competitive and intense they all are.
As for his notorious racing family and trying to follow suit, Andretti simple says, “You just have to take the positives from it, just to have [your family] in your corner is awesome.”
“It’s a double-edged sword as they say – it maybe opens sponsorship doors – those are big shoes to fill, but I put that on myself with anything I compete in really. You want to succeed – I’m probably my toughest critic. I know if I’m making myself happy, I know everybody is going to be impressed,” he says.
It’s not just his family that helps push and motivate him, but a large part his fans as well. “Fans are in your corner regardless, there are all different types – they like to talk bad when things don’t go right, but that’s what makes it sports – we’re paid to be entertainers because of them. Obviously none of us would have a job without them, so we appreciate their support. I’m lucky to be blessed with an awesome fan base,” Andretti says.
Though officially over, IndyCar drivers don’t necessarily have an off-season, true to many sports. “I was joking with my friends last night because they were talking about going on vacation, but the off season doesn’t look like an off season. I guess it’s a good thing; you don’t want to get too stagnant. I’m definitely moving around – I have some stuff in the UK, hopefully we have some racing in another series, I try to at least stay busy–I don’t want to just stay home. Running on the treadmill to prepare yourself just gets boring,” he jokes.
Known for being one of the most versatile drivers, Andretti has competed in the American Le Mans Series, the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans, and has been named to the FIA Formula E Drivers” Club. But he’s not content leaving his accolades there, which is why you always see him hustling around.
It’s not just inside a racecar that Andretti gets super competitive. “My brother just got me the newest Forza game – I have a problem I’m so competitive. I have to stop myself. I’d have no social life and would play all night,” he laughs.
If you’re one of the 77,000+ following Marco Andretti on Twitter, you may have noticed a tweet to Deion Sanders, but that doesn’t mean he’s a Cowboys fan. “He’s a friend of mine – I was bummed because he’s selling his house [in Dallas], it’s so cool.” You can also check him out on Instagram as he posts hilarious photos of his bulldog Moodie. (Bonus trivia! Moodie’s father is King Maximum who belongs to Ice-T and his wife Coco.)
Perhaps not harboring as much disdain for the Dallas Cowboys as some (like myself), Andretti finds himself rooting for the Colts, having a few friends on the team. And without question, he misses watching Peyton in a Colts uniform. “That guy is one of the best to ever play the game – as a Colts fan, we definitely miss him. I’m good friends with Reggie Wayne and I miss watching them play together,” he says looking forward to the newly kicked-off NFL season, once again led by Andrew Luck.
Driving a car at 220+mph speeds for a living must make it difficult to drive a normal car like the rest of us. “The only time I can get caught up in it is actually leaving a race – if I’m leaving a race and heading to the airport in my rental car, I don’t even notice I’m going fast because it’s slow motion – you have to catch yourself. I used to drive fast, I’ve just matured,” Andretti says.
And according to him, it’s pretty hit or miss if cops let him off the hook. “You get the ones that are fans or sometimes the one who wants to make an example out of you.”
Be on the lookout for Marco to continue his family legacy both on and off the track.
This article originally ran in the sport’s section of CBS Man Cave Daily – click here to see the original.