Of the 20 sports car events Michael Andretti entered from 1982-1997, 12 were with his father Mario, brother Jeff (at left, above, with Michael and Mario at Daytona in ’91) , or cousin John as a co-driver.
Michael’s son Marco will join in on the family tradition this weekend at Watkins Glen International where he’ll share the No. 36 Andretti Autosport LMP3 Ligier JS P320 with John’s son Jarett, and have team veteran Oliver Askew completing the trio for the six-hour enduro.
It’s just the sixth sports car start for Marco, who made his debut in 2008 at the 12 Hours of Sebring in his father’s Andretti Green Racing Acura LMP2, and his first endurance racing outing since a last-minute call-up to race at the Rolex 24 At Daytona in 2012. For Jarett, sports cars have become his home, racing everything from GTs to prototypes in recent years.
There’s a certain pride the elder Andretti takes in knowing the tradition he started with his father, brother, and cousin, will continue with Marco and Jarett as they take the practice forward with a new generation.
“It goes pretty far back, and now it’s really cool that they’re continuing this together in sports cars,” the team owner told RACER. “I was really excited about this because Marco and Jarett hooked up to race in IMSA, and I know that was a dream that John had for Jarett. It’s awesome that he’s making that dream come true, and that’s the fun part about sports cars; you can make it more of a family thing, right? Me and Dad did quite a few of them together.”
Four trips to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, numerous treks to the 24 Hours of Daytona, and 12 Hours of Sebring, and a scattering of standard IMSA races in the 1980s and 1990s brought the Andretti family together in the same cars at some of the world’s biggest endurance races.
“Our first real shot together, we finished third at Le Mans in ’83,” Andretti continued. “We were the first non-factory car home, and so you’re pretty proud of that. And then Dad and I in ’88, we were in a factory Porsche 962 with John, which was a really cool moment. We were way out in the lead and should have won the race. Unfortunately, we lost a cylinder; we still soldiered on with five cylinders and finished sixth.
“I remember when we raced as teammates with the Unsers as well in ’91 in Daytona. Those were really cool moments. I never had good luck in the endurance races. I’ve always run well in them, but I never had good luck in them, unfortunately; but it was always fun. The fun part was doing it with family.”
Along with Jarett’s ascension to LMP3, Andretti is pleased to see his son return to sports cars after taking a full-time break from NTT IndyCar Series activities.
“You know, I think he’s really happy where he is right now,” he said. “Marco’s really looking forward to doing this sports car race, and I know he wants to eventually do more sports cars in the future. Hopefully we can do things in a bigger class down the road.
“And he’s really good in sports cars. That last time he did Daytona, he was testing an Indy car at Palm Beach, and they called him right before the race and asked him to come and join in. No practice. I mean, he just started in the race and I think he was in the lead, as well. He’s in a quick sports car, which he loves, and he’s in it with his cousin, which makes it even better.”