When you have the Andretti name and you want to be a racing driver, you’d better grab all of the on-track and off-track knowledge and experience you can. That is exactly what young Jarett Andretti is doing in 2018.
Not only is the third-generation Andretti traveling the country hitting dozens of dirt tracks, but the North Carolina State business graduate is making his debut in the sports car world, too.
“I worked my way through college racing sprint cars,” said Andretti, who’ll compete in the 58th annual Rose Cup Races with the Pirelli World Challenge on July 13-15. “I would study on Monday through Thursday and then drive to Indiana to race on Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday night. Then drive back to Raleigh for NC State classes. And I made enough money to pay for school. Now, I’m concentrating on just racing professionally.”
Andretti, whose dad, John, won in Indy cars, stock cars, sports cars and drag racing, is plenty busy this summer with his job.
“We figured I will run 30 racing events in 57 days this summer including sprint cars and sports cars,” explained Jarett. “Sure, it’s busy, but I want the experience in various forms of racing and competing in the dirt and on the pavement is good for my career. I think in one stretch I competed in eight races in 11 days in five different states. And I drove to all of the races, too.”
That won’t be the case next week when the current Indianapolis resident races in the No. 18 Copeland Motorsports/David Tilton Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI machine in the TCR division of the Pirelli World Challenge at Portland International Raceway.
“Yes, I get to fly to Portland next week and that is very nice after the miles on the road to the sprint car events,” Andretti said. “It has been a learning process for me in the sports cars with the road racing circuits. I’m used to the small dirt tracks and the road racing is new to me. But I really enjoy it.”
Andretti’s learning curve in the sports cars has been a steep one in the Pirelli World Challenge as the new TCR class has brought in GT3 class-winning drivers like Ryan Eversley, Mark Wilkins and Michael Lewis as well as top teams from IndyCar racing (i.e. Bryan Herta Autosport) and sports car championships (i.e. RealTime Racing).
“I want to thank Dave Tilton and the Copeland Motorsports team for assisting in my sports car debut this year,” Andretti said. “We jumped right into the deep end quickly, racing against top teams and drivers in the TCR category. But the learning has been good for me and I will continue to gain more experience in the sports cars this year. I’m looking forward to racing at Portland International Raceway. My family has a lot of history there with my dad and my uncles, Mario and Michael.”
Both Mario and Michael Andretti have scored IndyCar wins at PIR in the past.
“The Northwest area is very pretty and I’m anxious to get out there,” said Jarett. “Then things get very busy again with the big USAC Sprint Week in Indiana, seven races in nine days. But that is what I like.”
Andretti’s Pirelli World Challenge action at PIR begins with practice runs in the No. 18 Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR car at 9:20 a.m. PDT on Friday, July 13. Qualifying is set for Jarett at 6:30 p.m. PDT Friday. The two TCR main events with Andretti in action take place on Saturday, July 14, with Race 1’s 40-minute sprint at 2:25 p.m. PDT, and Sunday’s Race 2 feature beginning at 10:40 a.m. PDT.