LONG BEACH, Calif. – Though John Andretti recently entered another bout of chemotherapy for a relapse of colon cancer, Jarett Andretti “can’t get him to stop.”
“He’s doing pretty well right now,” Jarett said of his father, a versatile driver who won in NASCAR Cup, CART, IMSA and NHRA and also was the first to run the Indianapolis 500 and Coca Cola 600 on the same day in 1994. “He came sprint car racing with me last weekend. Goes to the car washes, up until 3 in the morning.
“He’s obviously going through chemo again, treatments and stuff. I’ve never seen it let him affect him. It’s really an inspiration.”
John Andretti might find some inspiration from his son next month when Jarett will become the seventh member of the famous racing family to compete at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Andretti Autosport announced Friday afternoon that it’ll field a car for Jarett Andretti in the Freedom 100 Indy Lights race May 24 at IMS. Jarett will join a prestigious list of his great uncle, Mario; his father, John; his uncle, Adam; his godfather and cousin, Michael; and cousins Jeff and Marco.
Andretti Autosport owner Michael Andretti said his cousin John “always had a dream to see his son drive at Indy. I’m glad we’re making it a reality this year.
“This is very important to me personally,” Michael Andretti said. “Me and John are very, very close. We’ve been close our whole lives, growing up together. To help bring one of his dreams come true, it’s cool to be able to do that.
“Jarett is a part of our team there anyway. He’s been there for a long time. It’s nice to finally get him out there and do something out there at the speedway.”
Jarett Andretti, 26, races for Andretti Autosport in the Pirelli GT4 America Series. He also has excelled with championships in go-karts, USAC Midgets and sprint cars, where his dad often has helped turn wrenches on his son’s cars.
“He’s a really good mechanic,” Jarett, the 2014 USAC National Sprint Car rookie of the year, said of his father. “A lot of people don’t know that about him, but he’s an extremely talented mechanic. He can get on a lathe, do stuff. He can’t weld, but he can do about anything else.
“We’ve done it all together. Just to kind of go through this process together, it’s been great. It’s as much of a byproduct of his hard work as it is mine.”
Because of his relative inexperience in IndyCar-style cars, Jarett Andretti will test April 18 at Kentucky Speedway in a rookie orientation with Indy Lights teammates Oliver Askew and Robert Megennis.
“It’s cool to kind of get that opportunity from a sprint car to get to do this,” Jarett said. “Mirrors my dad’s opportunities as well. He kind of took a sidetrack through sports cars like I’m doing.”