Friday, May 2, 2014

Mario Andretti RRDC Interview

This post gives me a chance to put up a picture posted before: Mario Andretti at Road America in the Newman-Haas
Lola T-8700 in 1987.  I saw Andretti race several times: in Formula 5000 at Mid-Ohio, and CART events at
Road America 1987-1994.

I found the Andretti interview less informative (and amusing) than the Jim Hall and Brian Redman interviews.  Here's the link:

Perhaps because it was my first, the 1987 CART race at Road America was one of the most memorable for me.  Views were unobstructed by catch-fencing.  You could watch from anywhere on the "middle straight," and from the Billy Mitchell Bridge all the way back to the exit of The Kink.  We had dinner at Siepken's Inn, with Andretti's team, Al Holbert's Porsche team, and other luminaries, at nearby tables.

The paddock was still grass.  Many of the teams still hauled their race cars in enclosed gooseneck trailers towed by "dualie" pickups.  They found a spot in the paddock, unrolled the awning from the trailer, and went to work on the car.  I remember walking past Michael Andretti's blue and yellow Kraco Stereo entry, sitting on sawhorses next to a paddock lane, completely torn down between practice sessions, close enough to touch.  I cherish these memories.

It was emblematic of Mario's Road America weekend in 1987 that his Lola sat, silent and unattended, under a cover, while the other crews beavered away at torn-down cars all over the paddock.  He qualified on pole, led all laps, and won the race.  Game, set, match.

At the nadir of their respective racing careers, as Andretti explains in the interview, he teamed up with Colin Chapman.
And Chapman turned out to have a couple more aces up his sleeve: the Lotus 78 with inverted wings in its side pods,
and the Lotus 79 (above) with venturi tunnels in its side pods.  The 78 gave Andretti a couple of wins, and the 79
made him World Champion in 1978.  It is also the classiest-looking integration of sponsor graphics into race
car design, in my opinion.  The Players cigarette box was black with gold pinstripes.  If we must have
sponsor graphics (and I guess we must), let them look this good.


Wannabe Hotshoe said...

Sorry, Pilote, Mario wins. He had that twinkle in his eyes, and was about as animated and personable as I've ever seen him. Great storytelling, and you got to see the impish side of him, vs the tireless, predatory competitor we all learned to respect(?). Of course, Bobby Rahal did mention the wine consumed with dinner, so maybe that relaxed him and his memories for the interview. Besides, he's the object of my unexplainable hero worship - maybe it's the versatility he's shown and ability to win in just about any chassis you put him in. Not to take away from the incredible interviews posted of Jim Hall and the unparalleled Brian Redman (another hero)....neither one of those guys owned a pig, did they??

Pilote Ancien said...

To each his own!

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