After 226 races and fifteen years of racing in IndyCar, Marco son of Michael of the Andretti clan is retiring from the family business. Once held in high opinion as the future of American racing talent, Marco puts pause to his career after two race victories. The most recent of Marco’s trips to winner’s circle came a decade ago in Iowa. The kid has shown flashes of brilliance in his career, most recently by snatching pole position for last year’s delayed Indy 500. The 33-year-old rolling tribute to nepotism only has plans to enter the 500 this year and no other races.
“Upon careful thought over the past couple of months, I have made the decision to make some changes to my racing activities and focus for 2021,” said Andretti. “I recently shared this decision and the changes that I want to make with my dad (Michael son of Mario of the Andretti clan) and have spoken at length with him about it. I appreciate his openness and for allowing me the flexibility to map out my own course going forward.
“I am fortunate to be in a position at Andretti Autosport to run the full IndyCar season if I want to. But, instead, I have decided to change up my direction somewhat — to reset, to do something a little different — look at everything fresh and see where that takes me. And, to me, now seems like the appropriate time to do that.
“I definitely am going to keep driving. I still have a deep passion for it and have unfinished business to take care of and some boxes that I want to check before I consider retiring as a driver.
“First and foremost, I remain very hungry to win the Indy 500. It is our biggest stage and the place that I feel I bring the most to the table as a driver. I’ve come close there and am in the mix there it seems each year. Winning the pole there last year was awesome but that isn’t enough — I know that a victory there is in my future so we’ll try to get that done in the coming years. As such, I have committed to and am looking forward to running the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport this year.”
Marco says he’s keeping his options open for 2021, potentially adding extra rounds of the IndyCar championship here and there, or perhaps running in IMSA’s LMP3 class with cousin Jarrett Andretti. Other sports car opportunities in blue ribband events like the Daytona 24, Le Mans 24, and Sebring 12 are of interest to the third and worst in a trilogy of Andrettis. Marco has previously run Sebring in his father’s Acura LMP2 program, has finished as high as tenth in the Daytona 24 2010 in a Starworks Daytona Prototype, and DNF’d at Le Mans with Rebellion that same year.
With a name like Andretti, the hope was always that Marco would be the reborn talent of his grandfather. Mario celebrated wins at the Daytona 500, Le Mans 24, Indy 500 and Sebring 12, plus a Formula 1 world championship, a USAC title, and three IndyCar championships. While Michael managed to win a CART title in his tenure, Marco has strayed farther from his patriarch’s light winning just under one percent of the races he has entered.
In recent years, I honestly hoped for more from Marco. I think finally moving Michael off of his pit box and replacing him with Brian Herta was a great move by the team, and you could see Marco improved as a driver in those few seasons. I am forced to wonder what might have been if he hadn’t been under the wing of his father for all these 15 seasons and been forced to fly on his own, if he’d have taken wing or fallen to the rocky crags below. Either way, it probably would have been better for the sport and for Marco.
Fare thee well, Marco son of Michael. Maybe sports cars will be the challenge you need to push yourself into winning. Or, maybe we’ll only see you every May for the next few years and you’ll fizzle out like the last sparkler of Independence Day.