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Is Marco Andretti on the verge of ending the so-called family curse?

Marco Andretti
Marco Andretti during the Day After Shoot for the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Monday, August 17, 2020 -- Photo by: Chris Owens via IMS Media

By winning the pole for the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, Marco Andretti is one step closer to ending a family drought that goes back to 1969

According to one of the great motorsports journalists, Robin Miller, there is a thing called the ‘Andretti curse’ that goes back roughly a half-century. When patriarch Mario Andretti won the Greatest Spectacle in Racing in 1969, every family member who attempted to do the same has failed. The current last in the line of family racers, Marco Andretti, is one step closer to ending a half-century of frustration.

At 33, this may be Marco’s best shot of drowning himself in a dairy product with a wreath wrapped around his neck. This year’s Indianapolis 500 will be his 15th try to crush the curse once and for all. But just because he won the pole, there are 500 miles separating dream from reality. Look how the Andrettis have fared over the years.

  • Mario: 29 starts, 3 poles (1966-67, 1987), 1 win (1969), 4 Podiums (1965, 1969, 1981, 1985)
  • Michael (son): 11 starts, 1 podium (1991)
  • Jeff (son): 3 starts, never finished any (two crashes, one engine failure)
  • John (nephew): 7 starts, no poles, wins, or podiums
  • Marco (grandson): 14 starts, no poles, no wins, 3 podiums

The Andretti family has accounted for 64 career starts, with Mario holding all three poles and the only victory. As a collective, they have amassed just eight podiums.

Marco Andretti

Marco Andretti’s helmet during the Day After Shoot for the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Monday, August 17, 2020 — Photo by: Chris Owens via IMS Media

HOW IT ALL BEGAN … ALLEGEDLY

Miller said the curse started in 1970 when Mario, Andy Granatelli, and Clint Brawner were fighting over the team. Granatelli and Brawner went their separate ways, and Andretti went with Granatelli. That incensed Brawner’s wife Kay, and according to legend, she put a hex on them saying they would never win another 500. A half-century later, the curse is alive and well.

The Andretti name does have one success story, Michael Andretti’s Andretti Autosport. Since its formation in 2003, the team had 64 wins and 41 poles entering the 2020 campaign. Over that time, it has drawn many top-flight drivers into its stable, such as Dario Franchitti, Tony Kanaan, and NASCAR’s Kurt Busch, who was doing a Memorial Day doubleheader with the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

While Michael had unmatched success in the Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) with 43 victories as a driver, the most ever in the series, he failed to win in Indianapolis. As an owner, he has six cars entered, driven by Zach Veech, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe, Colton Herta, and someone who claims to be family with the same last name.

Andretti Autosport would love to see one of its cars in the winner’s circle, but imagine how proud 80-year old grandpa Mario would be to see Marco end a 50-year drought. His dad Michael would be over the moon, too. Only one obstacle, 200 laps of high-speed racing to the checkers at the Brickyard.

Miracles do happen, you know?

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