Mario Andretti is a racing icon. He’s won the Daytona 500, the Indy 500 and a Formula One World Championship—a feat no other racecar driver has achieved. He’s taken the checkered flag 111 times during his career and, today, he shares his stories and reflections from his more than 50-year career in this inaugural episode of Johnny g & Friends, presented by Firestone.
John Gamauf (aka Johnny g) first met Mario in the mid-’90s at an IndyCar race. Their friendship solidified when they traveled across the country visiting dealers during the Ford-Firestone recall. Mario had just signed on as a Firestone spokesman, and Johnny g served as president of consumer tires in North America for the company. From this, they formed a bond that has lasted for 21 years.
In this episode of Johnny g & Friends, hear about Mario’s humble beginnings in racing, how he’s impacted the evolution of race tire technology and why he stood up for the Firestone brand during a tumultuous time. Johnny g & Mario also discuss:
- Returning to his hometown in Italy to shoot “Drive Like Andretti” and the memories he has as a young Italian refugee and young immigrant in Nazareth, Pennsylvania [1:34 video]
- The evolution of technology in racing from when Mario started to now and what it takes for drivers to extract what they need from the vehicle [3:21 video]
- The Ford-Firestone recall and why Mario became a spokesperson and “put his name on the line” for the Firestone brand during that time [5:20 video]
- Mario’s reflections on being a test driver for Firestone and the improvements in race tire technology he’s experienced along the way [9:13 video]
- Mario’s greatest stories from racing with his son, Michael, and how he and his twin brother, Aldo, have created a family of professional racecar drivers [12:20 video]
- Mario’s “Father’s Day gift” from his son at one of the closest races in IndyCar history [15:47 video]
- Mario’s reflections on the impact of his career and being named to the “Living Legends” list in the Library of Congress [17:25 video]
- Where Mario’s intense drive to succeed comes from and his formula for creating a great team on and off the racetrack [18:28 video]
- Why, to this day, Mario still loves the sound of opera over the sound of an engine [21:23 video]
- Mario’s dream guests to a dinner party and why it includes Lady Gaga and Mikhail Gorbachev [22:39 video]
Listen to the full episode above or subscribe to Johnny g & Friends on Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Spotify and Spreaker.
Look for more episodes of Johnny g & Friends the first Tuesday of every month here.