Mario Andretti is to be inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame at Toronto’s Glenn Gould Studio, as the International Category honoree of 2012.
Andretti, 73, raced in Canada almost as long as in the United States, while winning worldwide in a sparkling 41-year career.
He’ll be honored during the 19th annual Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies presented by Canadian Tire, September 28th along with Canadian inductees the late Bob Armstrong, Jimmy Carr, John and Sharon Fletcher, Ron Fellows and Tom Walters with fans watching the ceremony and partying with the honorees afterward.
Nobody drove a Formula One car faster than Andretti at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, where he won the pole and recorded the fastest lap in 1977, the final year the Canadian Grand Prix was held at Mosport before moving to Montreal. The classic circuit’s back straight was named the Andretti straight after he was clocked there at 178 miles per hour in a 1967 USAC Indy car race.
On a global scale, Andretti was the first driver to win both the F-1 (1978) and Indy car championships (1965-66-69 and 84).
His versatility remains unparalleled. He won the Daytona 500 stock car race in 1967, and both the Indianapolis 500 and Pike’s Peak hill climb in 1969. On dirt tracks he was the USAC champion in 1974. In endurance racing, he co-drove to victory three times at Sebring, and following his
retirement from Indy car shared a class win at the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans.
In Canada, Andretti dominated USAC Indy car racing at Mont-Tremblant, winning all four heats of races in 1967 and 1968. He led a start-to-finish victory in Mosport’s 1975 Formula 5000 event.
And yet some of the bad luck associated with him at Indianapolis crossed the border with him. After turning that fastest-ever Formula One lap at Mosport, engine failure sidelined him from the lead. A broken halfshaft eliminated him from the USAC Indy car race that wrote his name large upon the straightaway.
His best finish in a Canadian Grand Prix race was third in 1976. In other podium finishes later in his career he was second at Toronto’s Exhibition Park in the 1991 Molson Indy, following a third at Vancouver in 1990.
He first came to Canada in 1965 for a USAC midget show on the CNE Stadium stock car track. He raced at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Formula One, as well as at Quebec’s Sanair oval in Indy car.
Andretti is the fourth American driver to be named to the CMHF since the international inductee category was introduced, joining Carroll Shelby, Bobby Rahal and Mario’s son Michael.
The American driver of the year in 1967, 1978 and 1984, he was chosen by the Associated Press as the driver of the century.
A limited number of tickets will go on sale Friday June 21 through the Hall of Fame’s website www.cmhf.ca or by calling 1-289 803 1375. Tickets are priced at $80.00 and include attendance at the Induction Ceremonies in the Glenn Gould Theatre and the post-induction ‘Hall of Fame reception’