A published story over the weekend claimed that Honda had fired Mario Andretti from the two-seater ride he’s been giving fans and sponsors since 2006, but IndyCar’s longtime engine manufacturer says it’s not true, and the legendary racer says he has no intention of quitting.
The story was news to the 1978 world champion – as it was to Honda.
The response to an email sent to a Honda representative stated: “No, he (Andretti) has not been ‘fired’
When reached at his home in Nazareth, PA on Sunday afternoon, Andretti made it clear that he was shocked to read this story.
“(The writer) rode with me at St. Pete and told me I was out, and I shut him down right away and told him that wasn’t my plan and I didn’t know anything about it,” said the 1969 Indy 500 winner. “The headline was about my last ride, but I’m not quitting.
“I haven’t spoken to anyone at Honda, and nobody has told me anything officially, but I love what I’m doing and I want to keep doing it as long as it feel right. It’s something that’s good for me and for IndyCar, and I thoroughly enjoy doing it.”
Asked if there were any concerns about his age, the 81-year-old legend replied: “I play tennis, water ski and still fly my ultralight, and I think I’m in damn good shape. If I felt something is different then I’ll be the first to admit it and I’m going to push the issue. But driving the two-seater is safer than driving to the track.”
It’s believed Honda’s contract for the fastest seat in sports is up for renewal, and Andretti says he hopes IndyCar carries on the program even if Honda stops after 15 years.
“I’ve enjoyed my stint with Honda and I want to keep doing this as long as I’m capable and I enjoy it,” he said. “I enjoy seeing how people react after our ride, and I think people like to ride with me.”