With the 50th anniversary of Mario Andretti’s lone Indianapolis 500 victory being celebrated this year, an Oregon motorsports museum has recently opened an extensive exhibit honoring the life and career of the racing legend.
The exhibit, appropriately titled Mario Andretti: Racing Royalty, opened on March 23 and runs through November 2 at the World of Speed Motorsports Museum in the Portland suburb of Wilsonville, OR.
The exhibit features eleven vehicles from Andretti’s racing career, covering a variety of different disciplines, and also includes exclusive video interviews with Mario, brother Aldo, son Michael and grandson Marco Andretti, as well as interviews with a variety of other racing personalities telling stories about Andretti, his legacy, and his contributions to the sport.
Museum Curator Ron Hugeli was one of the key individuals who helped organize the exhibit, and he recently explained to NBC Sports why he felt that it was time for the museum to construct an exhibit honoring Andretti.
“He is a person that has excelled and been a winner in eleven different forms of motorsport,” Hugeli said. “He’s had over five decades of racing competitively. He is the only race car driver, in my knowledge, whose name is part of the American lexicon. How many times have you heard somebody say, ‘Who do you think you are, Mario Andretti?’
“The man was able to get into any kind of car and be successful. Maybe not master it the first time, but boy, I tell you, give him a little bit of time and he’d be at the top of the game.”
The eleven cars from Andretti’s career that are featured in the exhibit are:
• 1949 Hudson Modified (Mario’s first race car)
• 1950 Hillegass TQ Midget
• 1955 Hillegass Sprint Car
• 1964 Kuzma Indy Roadster
• 1967 Ford Fairlane Stock Car (a recreation of Mario’s Daytona 500 Winner)
• 1967 Ford GT40 Mk IV J4 (12 Hours of Sebring Winner)
• 1969 Grant King (Pikes Peak Winning Car)
• 1972 Viceroy Champ Dirt Car
• 1979 IROC Camaro
• 1981 Wildcat Indy Car (from the controversial finish in the 1981 Indianapolis 500)
• 1994 Lola Indy Car (Used in the IMAX film, SuperSpeedway)
Mario Andretti: Racing Royalty is open every Tuesday-Sunday at the World of Speed Museum, and Hugeli said that Mario will make appearances at the exhibit in late August when IndyCar returns to Portland International Raceway.