By Frank Santoroski, Staff Writer
It was recently reported by Indianapolis newsman, Dave Calabro of NBC Affiliate WTHR, that former NASCAR and IndyCar driver, John Andretti, is fighting a battle with stage 4 colon cancer.
Andretti, 54, is the nephew of racing legend, Mario Andretti and cousin of IndyCar team owner Michael Andretti. His father, Aldo (twin brother to Mario) also had a racing career that was sidelined early on after an accident. One of the last true Renaissance men of racing, John Andretti enjoyed a unique career that saw him take wins in Sports cars, Indy cars, NASCAR, and even Top Fuel Dragsters.
Among his many career accomplishments are a win at the 24 Hours of Daytona, a CART win in rainy conditions at Surfers Paradise, as well as NASCAR Cup Series wins at two tracks that are polar opposites of one another: Daytona and Martinsville. In 1991, he shared the podium with his Cousin and Uncle at Milwaukee, becoming the only time in racing history that members of the same family swept the top three spots at a major auto race.
In 1994, John Andretti forever etched his name in the history books by becoming the first driver to run the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 in the same day. Now referred to “Double-Duty” or “Doing the Double” the feat has been repeated by Tony Stewart, Robby Gordon and Kurt Busch, but Andretti will always be the first.
Off the track, Andretti is a person that is universally liked. He always has a smile, he always takes time out for fans, and he spends countless hours giving back to the community. Over the years, he has been active in raising funds to benefit both The Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
He last raced in 2011, running in the Centennial Indianapolis 500 in a car co-owned by Michael Andretti and Richard Petty. In the years since then, Andretti has become a familiar voice on Sirius Radio, co-hosting a weekly racing program with John Kernan, and he has become a regular fixture on the USAC circuit as he guides the racing career of his son, Jarett.
The news of his health condition came as a surprise to many, and the outpouring of support from the racing community has been nothing short of incredible, rallying around him as he battles this disease.