ANOTHER Andretti is building a racing career. This time it’s Jarrett Andretti, son of John Andretti and grandson of Aldo Andretti.
John Andretti got his start in USAC, as did his uncle, Mario Andretti. This season, the younger Andretti will run the complete USAC National Sprint Car and USAC Silver Crown schedules.
Older race fans were thrilled by Mario Andretti storming the Midwest bullrings in the beautiful blue Gapco sprinter. His flamboyant driving style often put the car in Victory Lane. However, he was pretty hard on the equipment, and car owner Rufus Gray doubtlessly spent many long nights in the shop to keep a car under him.
Unlike his cousin, Michael Andretti, John Andretti started out racing midgets with USAC, including countless races at the Indianapolis Speedrome. His races there showcased his talents for the racing fraternity. This led him to Indy cars and later to NASCAR. He ran 17 years in NASCAR Sprint Cup stock cars, where he had two wins, 13 top-fives, 37 top-10s and
four poles. He also ran 13 years in Indy cars, where he had one win.
The younger Andretti ran USAC part time last season and is looking forward to competing in the toughest sprint car series in the land. The series will take Andretti to tracks from Pennsylvania to Los Angeles and from Wisconsin to Florida.
Andretti, 21, will drive the Superior Auto sprinter in the Midwest. In the distant races, he will be racing in Window World livery. Window World has been a longtime sponsor of both Andretti and his father. He will race the No. 4 Window World-sponsored Andretti Short Track Racing Silver Crown car on the pavement and the No. 14 McQuinn Silver Crown car on the dirt.
If Jarrett Andretti can put together a successful season this year, it will, along with the magic of the Andretti name, go a long way toward helping him build a racing career. However, he will compete against drivers like Bryan Clauson, Dave Darland, Chase Stockon, etc.; and that will be a true test of his ability to run with the best.
In the Winter Dirt Games V at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla., Andretti finished 13th and 15th. He came back from Florida tied with Hunter Schuerenberg for 12th place in the points. The USAC sprinters will return to action April 5 at Lawrenceburg Speedway.
Villeneuve set for return
It has been widely reported that 1995 Indianapolis 500 champion Jacques Villeneuve will return to IndyCar racing in the Indianapolis 500 in May. The race will mark the 20th anniversary of Villeneuve’s rookie appearance in the Indianapolis 500, where he finished second and took Rookie of the Year honors.
In addition to winning the 1995 Indianapolis 500, he went on to win the 1995 CART series championship.
In 1996, Villeneuve went to Formula One. He made 34 Grand Prix starts and won the World Championship in 1997 driving for the Williams team. After leaving Williams, Villeneuve remained in Formula One driving for
BAR, Renault and Sauber.
When leaving Formula One, Villeneuve ran selected NASCAR Camping World Truck, Nationwide and Sprint Cup races. He also competed in the 24 hours of Le Mans.
Villeneuve is one of only two drivers who have competed in IndyCar, NASCAR Sprint Cup and Formula One. The other driver is 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya, who has returned to open-wheel racing driving full time for Roger Penske in 2014.
About his return to open-wheel racing racing, Villeneuve said, “To have the opportunity to return to IndyCar racing and the Indianapolis 500 is something I never thought possible. The memories I have there will stay with me for the rest of my life, and I’m excited to create new memories in 2014.”
Villeneuve will be part of a three-car team being fielded by Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, headed by Sam Schmidt. The team’s other two cars will be driven by rookie Mikhail Aleshin and Simon Pagenaud.
In discussing Villeneuve’s addition to the team, Schmidt said, “We’re very pleased to have a driver of the caliber of Jacques in our lineup in May. He’s a former winner in the event and brings tremendous experience from his success
in the world’s top racing series. The trust Jacques is putting in Schmidt Peterson Motorsports also validates the progress all of our members have made in creating an organization capable in competing with anyone.”
Villeneuve is clearly excited by the prospect of returning to open-wheel racing.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to compete in several of the world’s top racing series, and nothing excites me more than entering the IndyCar Series at the current level of competitiveness,” he said. “Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has proven itself able to compete with the largest of teams, and I am excited to get to work with Sam and the team and start preparing for May.”
Old Timers reminder
The 16th annual Columbus Speedway and 25th Raceway Street Old Timers Reunion will be March 15 in the Community Building at the Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds.
The event will provide a rare opportunity to see the Cummins-powered Kurtis Craft roadster that qualified for the pole for the 1952 Indianapolis 500.
It also will provide those attending with an opportunity to see the film produced by Cummins about the development of the engine and car.
This is the event’s first year under the leadership of Greg Littleton, author of the comprehensive book on the roadsters at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I look forward to seeing the changes that he will bring to the event.
Tim McKinney writes a weekly racing column for The Republic. He can be reached at 379-5632.