Mario, who celebrates his 80th birthday today (Friday 28th February), is one of the greatest drivers of all time. He won the 1978 Formula 1 World Championship with Lotus, claimed the victory at the 1969 Indy 500, grabbed the IndyCar title four times, jumped onto the top step of the podium at NASCAR’s 1967 Daytona 500, and took a class win at Le Mans in 1995. Oh, and we can’t forget he won the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Put simply, Mario was the original inspiration behind this year’s Festival theme: “The Maestros – Motorsport’s Great All-Rounders”.
“The invitation for Goodwood this year is very welcome,” said Mario. “Charles [the Duke of Richmond] has asked me many times over the years, but it’s always clashed with my commitment to the Toronto IndyCar race where I drive the two-seater. This year I am not going to go to Toronto because of the theme you are having and it will mean a great deal to me to be there. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Mario at the wheel of his Lotus 78 Ford at the 1977 Spanish Grand Prix.
Andretti has fond memories of his Festival appearance in 1998: “It’s the ultimate compliment when people are interested in you, your career, and it’s always been a tremendous pleasure to meet them, sign the photos, and give them a memento of the day.
“The British fans are the most educated when it comes to motorsport and that’s just great to see. It’s a wonderful event from every standpoint and I enjoyed being there tremendously.”
To celebrate his long and illustrious career, Goodwood will be assembling some of Andretti’s most famous competition cars on the Hill. Those cars will be revealed close to the event…
The Duke of Richmond said: “We could not have honoured racing’s great all-rounders at the Festival of Speed without having Mario here. The breadth of his abilities and love of competing are unsurpassed and his achievements in so many forms of motorsports will probably never be matched. We cannot wait to celebrate his glorious career on the Hill.”
Asked about the range of victories which made him a Maestro, Mario said: “It was never my intention to do all those things, it just happened, mainly because of my love of driving and of course all those opportunities that I had that will never happen again. I don’t think you’ll ever see another World Champion who has driven in all those disciplines.”