John Andretti, nephew of Indianapolis 500 winner Mario Andretti and first cousin to Andretti Autosport team owner Michael, has died after a protracted battle with colon cancer. He was 56.
“It is with the heaviest of hearts we share that John Andretti has today lost his battle with cancer,” Andretti Autosport said in a statement. “John was a loving husband and father, a devoted son and a trusted cousin. He was a philanthropist, an advocate for the sport, a dedicated teammate, a driven competitor and most importantly a dear friend.
“Through Race4Riley, John spent decades dedicating his time and fundraising attention to Riley Hospital for Children. When first diagnosed with colon cancer in 2017, John vowed to fight back and use his voice to help spread the word of prevention and early detection. He fought hard and stole back days the disease vowed to take away. He helped countless others undergo proper screening, and in doing so, saved lives.
“We will forever carry with us John’s genuine spirit of helping others first and himself second. Our prayers today are with Nancy, Jarett, Olivia and Amelia, with our entire family, and with fans worldwide.
“We urge all our followers to, please, #CheckIt4Andretti.”
In a widely accomplished racing career, John Andretti raced and won in CART IndyCars, IMSA GTP sports cars before turning his attention to NASCAR in the mid 1990s. The Pennsylvanian scored two Cup Series wins in his 17 years in stock cars, and also briefly tried his hand at NHRA Top Fuel Drag Racing. He later made an IndyCar comeback in the IRL from 2007-2011.
Andretti remained involved in the racing community in Indianapolis following his retirement from pro racing, running the the Race for Riley at the Mark Dismore Karting Center in New Castle, Ind., during Brickyard 400 race week that benefits the James Whitcomb Riley Hospital for Children. He disclosed that he was battling stage four colon cancer in April 2017.
“We are devastated by the news that our dear friend, John Andretti, has passed away,” IMSA President John Doonan said in a statement. “John was an extremely talented IMSA racer, as his 1989 Rolex 24 victory and three other victories will attest. But he was one of the most versatile racers ever, winning races in IndyCar and NASCAR and reaching the pinnacle of top fuel drag racing as well. Our thoughts and prayers are with John’s family, friends and many colleagues, and he will be missed by many throughout our motorsports community.”
Penske Entertainment Corp. President & CEO Mark Miles added: “John Andretti’s skills behind the wheel of any kind of race car were admired by his millions of fans around the world, and he always returned that loyalty and kindness to become one of the most popular drivers of his generation. But John’s true mission was helping others, whether through his countless hours of charity work, especially with Riley Children’s Hospital here in Indianapolis, or by the colon screening campaign he started in April 2017 after he was diagnosed with cancer. John’s positive attitude and selflessness throughout his brave fight inspired all of us and will be a legacy that will continue forever. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife, Nancy, their three children and the entire Andretti family.”