Marco Andretti

(This is the first in a series of stories tracing the roots of Verizon IndyCar Series drivers through their own words. We’ll look at where they grew up and what first sparked their interest in racing. Today’s subject: Marco Andretti.)

Longtime Verizon IndyCar Series driver Marco Andretti of Andretti Autosport discusses the joy of experiencing anything mechanical during childhood in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, with writer Phillip B. Wilson.

Wilson: What did a young Marco Andretti do as a kid?

Andretti: It still had to do with motorized vehicles, that’s for sure. I remember (being) 3 years old, riding around a property I own now, and just causing trouble, tearing up the yard.

Wilson: What were you riding?

Andretti: Four-wheelers and stuff. I was on an ATV at 3 years old. Did it by myself. And then Dad (Michael Andretti) was yelling at me. He saw I sort of knew what I was doing, so he let it happen.

Wilson: So you had the sensation early – the speed, wind in the air, the sound and fury. This is cool?

Andretti: I think so, yeah. You need to be born with some ability to control the machinery. I was crazy back then. I broke my leg on a four-wheeler because I had rollerblades on.

Wilson: When was that?

Andretti: I was like 8.

Wilson: You were getting more reckless. You were more confident.

Andretti: Yeah, too confident. (Laughs.) I remember my first day of kindergarten. The bus was coming up the hill and they (his parents) were videoing me, my first day of school. They turned around and I took off on a golf cart because I didn’t want to go to school. There’s a video that we have to find, Dad literally chasing me on foot and I’m like standing up in the golf cart driving away. All the kids were laughing. It was a great first day of school.

Wilson: So you had the buzz, the itch, before you even realized what your family did?

Andretti: I think so, yeah. I was always on everything. If it was snowing, it was snowmobiles. I was always on a motorized vehicle.

Wilson: How old were you when you were first on a snowmobile?

Andretti: Probably 5.

Wilson: How’s that compare to the other vehicles?

Andretti: There’s a lot more variables, there’s ice and knowing the different grip levels. That accelerated my learning process a bit. Sometimes, it can catch you out. Sometimes, it’s grippy and hooks up. It’s a lot like dirt racing.

Wilson: So you’ve got four-wheelers, snowmobiles and go-karts were in there. What else?

Andretti: All kinds of water sports, jet skis. I can go on one slalom ski and almost touch my shoulder. I started that at a young age, too.

Wilson: Adrenaline junkie?

Andretti: Definitely used to be. Now, I’m just sick of breaking bones. I’m a little smarter now.

Wilson: You had your share of fun.

Andretti: I’d come in just covered in mud and get yelled at.

Learn more about Marco Andretti via his biography.