Life Lessons from Mario Andretti
A Library of Congress Living Legend
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What to expect from this automotive podcast episode..
Welcome to another entry into the Future Car Podcast, the best automotive podcast there is! We’re very excited to bring you the full episode from our latest entrance, where we’re joined by motorsport legend Mario Andretti.
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Here’s what you can expect from the full episode, which is now LIVE
Mario’s love for motorsport ❤️
Find out what makes Mario tick, and the drive behind the man who became Formula One world champion in 1978
Role Mario continues to play beyond the motorsport world 🏎️
Mario’s influence stretches far beyond the white lines of a racetrack. A name that is recognized around the world, Mario continues to break barriers on a cultural and societal level
The importance of new technology in motorsport 📱
Mario may have raced during a time when engines would churn out 1000 bhp, but he truly recognizes the importance technology plays in ensuring the future of the car across the globe. Ultimately, it’s the efforts from Mario that set an example for the rest of the world to push us to a sustainable future.
Some Questions I Ask:
- Do you think the addition of technology has made the driver’s skills less important? (01:07)
- Did racing in different categories make you a better driver? (06:09)
- What do you think have been the greatest contributions that racing has made to the automotive industry? (18:01)
- How do you feel sitting in the car waiting for the green flag to drop? (25:27)
- How important do you think it is for racing to embrace sustainability? (35:27)
What You’ll Learn in this Episode:
- The importance of getting the best out of the available car (04:11)
- What inspired Mario to become a race car driver (09:20)
- The difference between IndyCar and Formula One (12:13)
- Why being inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame was very important to Mario (15:34)
- Mario’s experience racing against his son (31:12)
Connect with Mario Andretti:
Connect with Ed Bernardon:
- Future Car: Driving a Lifestyle Revolution
- Motorsports is speeding the way to safer urban mobilitySiemens Digital Industries Software
Mario Andretti: And why is motor racing important? Because of the automobile when it was invented. It was invented not to be raced, but to be transportation. But then again, there’s a sport that’s connected to it. And to be able to be recognized at that level, even outside of the sport, and to feel that maybe you’ve contributed to some degree as far as that creating attention toward the software, or maybe being part of the technology that is developed in a racing world where it’s also then fed down into the production side. I mean, let’s face it, there were many new aspects of engine development that started in racing, and then, obviously, it came down and funneled down to the production side. So, there is a connection with that as well.
Ed Bernardon: On this episode of the Future Car Podcast you will hear Life Lessons from a Library Of Congress Living Legend that has had a great impact on our society, culture, and technology. Our guest was also knighted in his native Italy. GQ Magazine named him one of the 25 Coolest Athletes of all time. And he was in the first Pixar Cars movie voicing himself. In addition to all that, he is considered by many to be one of the greatest racecar drivers in history as the only one to have won the Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500, and the Formula One championship. Our guest today is the racing icon Mario Andretti, a racing legend whose impact goes beyond racing. Enjoy my conversation with Mario Andretti.
Let’s get started. You’ve been racing for five decades. You’ve had to stay on top of technology throughout all this time in order to be competitive. When you started racing, they didn’t even have radios in cars. And since that time, they’ve introduced computers, data acquisition, semi-automatic gearboxes, ground effects, and even got some of the highest-level engineering talent off and on the track. So, with the addition of all this technology over the years, do you think that driver skill is now less important than it used to be to win racing?
Mario Andretti: I really don’t think so, quite honestly, because it’s just a matter of how you use your tools — the more tools you have, the more you’re expected to do as far as overall performance. I’ve always said, quite honestly, and I know what I’m talking about, the champions of today would have been champions then in the past, and vice versa. The human element is still very much alive in the sport no matter what the technology talks and what it means. I think the sport is regulated to the point that many things that could be automatic are not, are still manual to keep the element of the team effect. You go back to when I started, for instance, at that point, we were at the edge of technology as we knew it, but there was so much more to be learned. So, it was natural for the sport to evolve and progress, just like life has done in general, quite honestly. But here again, to repeat what I said is that the human element is still very much there, very much important; it’s just how you use the tools that are available today to the maximum. I think what this does, the challenge now since everybody seems to know everything, is to have just a 0.2% advantage over somebody. There you go.
Ed Bernardon: It’s a sport of milliseconds. So, no matter what, the skilled driver will take whatever machine they have, and they’re going to get the most out of it. You recently drove the 2013 McLaren at the US Grand Prix. If you had to compare that to your Brawner Hawk from ‘69, which one was the most fun to drive or the hardest to drive? How would you compare those two?
Mario Andretti: I’d say the later the better. I always look forward to technology. It’s all a matter of taking whatever you have to the limit. Again, I always encourage and love to take advantage of everything that’s in my disposal. And I assure you that if I had to race a modern racecar today, I would embrace that equally to the way I embraced the car, let’s say, the Brawner Hawk at that time. For me, the challenge is always to take the equipment to the limit — the limit is higher, fine, more G’s and whatever. But still, the satisfaction from a driver standpoint is to be able to just extract every little bit that is available from that machine, and that’s it. I’m not wanting to say, “Oh, in those days that’s the way we had to do this or that. You had a gear that shifts and all that.” I was at the forefront of the ground effects systems. I was at the forefront of a lot of things. Our cars in IndyCar with the Newman Haas team, we were the first ones to instrument our IndyCar with telemetry. We were testing at the Romeo, at the Ford Proving Grounds. So, I’ve experienced this whole movement in a very positive way. And here again, talking about the human element from my standpoint — give me what’s available tomorrow, that’s what I’ll be looking forward to.
Ed Bernardon: You’ve raced in all sorts of different series: midget, sprint, dirt track, stock cars, Indy, Formula One. How did racing in these different categories make you a better driver? For instance, how does driving in IndyCar help you drive in Formula One? Or vice versa, how did driving in Formula One help you drive in IndyCar?
Mario Andretti: To me, it just widens your dimension. Experience is experience, and I’ll give you a perfect example. Would you think that driving a dirt car would have some value about certain elements of driving a Formula One car?
Ed Bernardon: Yeah, because you can really feel the drift and how it’s oversteering.
Mario Andretti: Let me tell you where I’m going. In a dirt track, every lap conditions change, you’re looking for grip, you’re going high, you’re going low in the corners, and you try to get the feel of the car. When are you confronted with those conditions? In the wet—wet conditions on the racetrack, whether it’s Formula One, IndyCars, or sports cars. And that’s what it teaches you, that’s what it taught me; to just take the most ridiculous lines to the corner just to search for grip, going for the dirty part, rather than which is totally opposite in the dry. And that’s what to do on the dirt.
Ed Bernardon: Would you recommend that drivers starting out today start off in dirt racing? Would that be a big help you think?
Mario Andretti: It would not hurt, but what I’m trying to tell you is that you always learn something from a different discipline because you’re looking at a different animal. But the bottom line, what a driver always looks for is a balance, a certain feel that you’re looking for in any type of car. Obviously, when you’re going from a single seater to a heavier car, like a sports car or a stock car, you seem to find the limit very quickly and then you have a tendency to overdrive something like that. So, these are the differences. But again, overall, however, by moving around, I think all you’re doing is just putting something in a bank, as far as knowledge. The silly way I can put it.
Ed Bernardon: I guess the more different series you go in, you get a better experience on how to drive it to that limit.
Mario Andretti: To be able to extract every ounce that’s available in that equipment that you’re in. And the more you experience other types of equipment, the better you get a feel for that sort of thing. So, that’s the way it worked for me anyway.
Ed Bernardon: But occasionally, you pass that line. I guess that’s a big part of the skill is knowing how far you can go occasionally passing the line but not passing it too often.
Mario Andretti: Well, did you ever hear my quote? “If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.” It’s all about maintaining that edge right to the very edge of disaster, that’s when you’re going to set a record, that’s when you’re obviously going to extract every bit out of the car. You can’t be sitting in a race car and feel comfortable. Just remember that. Remember that while you’re doing that.
Ed Bernardon: Do you ever apply back to life in general, that statement there? “If you’re not on the edge, you’re not pushing hard enough.”
Mario Andretti: Depends on how ambitious you are. If you want to go above, let’s say, that mediocre level, that’s the way you just have to think. If you want to do something in life that totally satisfying, you’ve got to push, you can’t be totally comfortable.
Ed Bernardon: I want to take you back just for a second to when you were in Italy before you came to the United States, in Europe, Monza. And that’s when you decided you wanted to be a racecar driver. So, specifically, when you were there, if you can go back to that moment, what was it that you saw, you smelled, you heard, or someone you met that made you say, “I’m going to be a racecar driver.” What actually happened?
Mario Andretti: Well, let’s put it this way. Up to that point, I had been reading, I’ve watched news videos of cars in action in Italy. When Ferrari and Maserati were on the world stage in Formula One, and then you had the sports car, Mille Miglia, the famous sports car race around Italy. But when I finally got to see with my twin brother, Aldo, we got to see the race live, where you hear the noise, just the smell, the fuels, and the smell of the burning rubber — that’s when all of a sudden it captivates you, then you’re all there. I had several idols: Fangio, Moss, and of course, the Italian current world champion at the time was Alberto Ascari in Ferrari. As you can understand, a lad, 14 years old, dreaming — you’re allowed to dream when you’re that young — as if, “God, please, someday give me the opportunity to pursue this and become a race driver.” And from there on, Ed, there was no plan B on my mind.
Ed Bernardon: Full throttle from there on?
Mario Andretti: Full throttle.
Ed Bernardon: You said that was your dream. What do you dream about now?
Mario Andretti: I dream about doing something that accomplishes something tomorrow. Right now what we have on the table is entering Formula One. But Michael, as a team owner, that’s a huge undertaking and it’s a great challenge. But it’s our rodeo, it’s what we live for, it’s what we’ve been doing all our life, and it’s what we enjoy. We have a lot on our plate to look forward to. Have reason to wake up every morning.
Ed Bernardon: How would you compare being a team owner or running a racing team in Formula One to IndyCar? How do you think those are similar or different? What’s the biggest difference do you think? Maybe that’s a good question.
Mario Andretti: Well, the biggest difference, obviously, is that you’ve got more moving parts because you’re your own manufacturer and all that sort of thing. So, on the technical side, it’s much more complicated. But the bottom line of the execution and everything, it’s all about having the team function — your pitstops, your strategies. No matter how sophisticated you think you are, you can make mistakes, you try to minimize mistakes. We’ve seen fans when we watch a team, we’re on a couch, and we see something that a team manager doesn’t see: “Why in the world are they doing that? Why are they starting the race on mediums? Why are they starting on hard?”
Ed Bernardon: It’s easier from the couch.
Mario Andretti: Yes, but also there’s so much to choose from. So, basically, when you’re comparing the two series, it’s just what do you have available to work with and what the specific strategies are. It’s gotten a lot of similarities — no question. It’s gotta be a study of what’s going on and surround yourself with the best people possible to do the specific, specialized jobs. That’s how it works. That’s how any good business works.
Ed Bernardon: So, you’ve raced at Monaco, Daytona, and LeMans, 29 times in the Indy 500. I grew up in Indianapolis, like I mentioned, I want to talk to you about the significance of the Indianapolis 500. What is it about that race and about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that makes it the racing capital of the world?
Mario Andretti: Well, it’s tradition right now. I mean, how many events today can claim to have been around for over 100 years? Think about it. How many sporting events could make that claim? You can probably count them on a finger in one hand. So, the tradition is so rich, so solid, that from a career standpoint, it can make your career just by being there. Because if you excel there, opportunities open up for you; that’s what I experienced. Fairly or not, many kinds of career is judged on your performance at Indy, which is totally unfair, by the way. It’s no harder to drive at Indy than it is in Milwaukee. In fact, sometimes Milwaukee on the mile is tougher than Phoenix. This thing that “if you can Indy, you can conquer the world,” I wish it was true, but it’s not. But it’s just that the race has that appeal. Why? Because it’s known around the world. I said this over and over that, even back in ‘69, when I won, I started getting fan mail from all over the world, “Gosh! Okay, everybody knows now.” So, that’s what that does for you.
Ed Bernardon: You are suddenly a great driver overnight.
Mario Andretti: Overnight, you’re the greatest driver in the world.
Ed Bernardon: You’re enshrined in all these halls and walls and walks of fame. But when you were inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame—I think it was in 2005—in your acceptance speech, you called it “possibly your sweetest victory.” And it placed you alongside not just racing giants, but auto industry giants like the founders of Chevrolet, Ferrari, Ford, Honda, Porsche, and Toyota. Tell us a little bit about what it’s like to be in the Automotive Hall of Fame with all these automotive giants. I mean, it’s an honor. It goes beyond racing. It’s truly an automotive industry honor.
Mario Andretti: Well, you just said it, you said it all. And look at where you are celebrated among, the icons of our industry. And why is motor racing important? Because of the automobile when it was invented. It was invented not to be raced, but to be transportation. But then again, there’s a sport that’s connected to it. And to be able to be recognized at that level, even outside of the sport, and to feel that maybe you’ve contributed to some degree as far as that creating attention toward the software, or maybe being part of the technology that is developed in a racing world where it’s also then fed down into the production side. I mean, let’s face it, there were many new aspects of engine development that started in racing, and then, obviously, it came down and funneled down to the production side. So, there is a connection with that as well. So, that’s the reason why I suppose that they were considered to be part of it, and that’s why my appreciation for that recognition is honest, and that’s very much and huge for me.
Ed Bernardon: Sometimes I get the question of what has racing done in terms of automotive technology, and I always mention, “Well, you know, the rearview mirror was first used in 1911 when Ray Haroon won the first Indianapolis 500.”
Mario Andretti: That’s when it started, yeah.
Ed Bernardon: What do you think have been the greatest contributions that racing has made to automotive technology to the cars that we drive today on the street?
Mario Andretti: I think, overall, it’s about determining the safety aspect of the tires, for instance. The most rigorous application of a tire—a tire is the most important part of any vehicle—is that there’s no more rigorous proving ground than the racetrack. I’ve been testing Firestone tires since I started in 1964; I’ve been a part of that and I know the progress that we’ve made over the years. But that’s not just performance, it’s safety. Why? Because you’re constantly putting a tire under the stresses that you can only dream about on a pleasure car. So, when you’re driving your family somewhere, taking a long trip, you can be very much at ease that you’re in good shape, you’re in good hands with that side of it. I’d say, probably from the standpoint of safety, I think probably the tires are the biggest contribution development on the racetrack, and that’s where the knowledge is directed down to the production side for an everyday car.
Ed Bernardon: To continue a little bit about all the honors that you’ve gotten, your winning car from ‘69 is in the Smithsonian. And a few years ago, you were inducted into the Library of Congress Living Legends. The Living Legends honors people, not just in racing, but that have an impact on culture, science, and social heritage, and there are people like Hank Aaron, Madeleine Albright, Muhammad Ali, Walter Cronkite, Barbra Streisand, and everyone’s favorite, the Big Bird from Sesame Street. Right. So, what does it feel like to be part of a group like this that includes Big Bird and all these other famous people?
Mario Andretti: That’s truly an honor, and I’ll tell you why. I represented the sport of motor racing, which has been my life, and I think I’m the first one to have been acknowledged among individuals and groups like that. So, that’s the pride that goes into that recognition.
Ed Bernardon: Your name is mentioned. I think it’s like 96 songs that are out there, from hip-hop to rock and roll to country music. Do you have a favorite kind of music or something like that, that if you said “Hey, I love this Mario Andretti song,” Do you have one?
Mario Andretti: I love the one from Amy Grant.
Ed Bernardon: I grew up in Indianapolis. But then when I went to school, I came up here to Boston. And I have a friend here, her name is Maureen. We call her Mo. One year, I was getting ready to go to the Indianapolis 500 like I do every year, and Mo says to me, “Oh, you’re going to that race again, where they turn left. I drive to the grocery store and turn left and right, that’s a lot harder to do.” So, my question is, what would you say to someone who thinks that racing is boring? What would you say to them to convince them of the beauty and excitement of the sport? What can I tell my friend Mo?
Mario Andretti: Well, she should take a ride in a two-seater and get an idea of what the excitement is all about. I mean, that’s the whole thing. The characteristic of oval versus road courses, it’s different. But there’s a different technique, different satisfaction to the ride from that. On a road course, obviously, a lot busier, there’s a lot more diversity there, a lot of braking, acceleration, and turns, right, left, going uphill and downhill. On an oval, you’re consistently high speed and you’ve got a couple of corners that you have to execute. But the G force that, obviously, you experience there under strenuous circumstances, and also realizing that no mistake is a small mistake, the slightest mistake can be a disaster. All of those elements play in. And if you’re out there on the sidelines, “Oh, well, it’s boring,” you haven’t got a clue what you’re looking at or what this is all about. But try to put yourself in that seat, where like in Indianapolis, you’re approaching that corner 240 miles an hour and you’re turning, where on a straight away, when you’re approaching that corner, it looks like a hairpin. So, don’t belittle any part of it. Trust me. It takes a lot of skill, a lot of preparation, and a lot of courage to do these things.
Ed Bernardon: It’s like you said, you’re turning left, but you’re turning left on the edge. And like you said, there are no small mistakes when there’s a wall there and you’re going hundreds of miles an hour. I think the other thing, too, is you have to do it 800 times, so there are 800 turns that you have to do. I believe it was the year you won, in ‘69, I think you were going down the backstretch and at some time during the race, you were smelling the barbecue of people on the track. That’s dangerous. As soon as you stop focusing on racing and you start thinking of barbecued ribs, that’s not a good idea. Keeping that concentration is a big part of it.
Mario Andretti: Well, you got it, obviously, it’s just that what I said about that is that at one point, toward the very end of the race, I had such a lead, all I had to do to make sure that I tried to bring it home. I was not driving on the edge, per se, because I didn’t really have to. And when you have that 0-1% relaxation in the cockpit, you start wandering. And all of a sudden, people are out there and their grills, waiting to have a hamburger or hotdog after the race is over, and you start smelling that. Believe it or not, it crossed my cockpit somehow. And then all of a sudden, I know in turn two, I was just not concentrating like I should have, and I went kind of wide, but that got my attention after that. So, this shows you how quickly you can get used to that speed, how quickly you get caught out on something where the slightest lapse of concentration can be a disaster. It’s just like if going down the road and you’re sort of bored, you’re dozing off and you go to the side, you got on some ripples on the side, and it wakes you up. You realize how awake you’re going to be from there on. That type of thing. So, it happened to me at that level, but never again.
Ed Bernardon: Well, like you said, those little ripples on the road when they wake you up are not so bad. But when you get woken up by maybe the tail of your car slipping out approaching a wall, that’s a little bit different, right?
Mario Andretti: It wasn’t that bad.
Ed Bernardon: This whole thing about how you feel and the emotions you have. We’ll use the Indianapolis 500 as an example. So, you’re sitting there, the cars are lined up, the race hasn’t started yet, and you start to roll around. How does the feeling that you have inside you when you’re sitting there and waiting for things to get started change from that moment when the green flag drops down?
Mario Andretti: Well, to be honest with you, with everything that goes on, all the hoopla and everything, the pageantry that goes on, you just cannot wait. For me, the best moment was when I would just lower myself into the cockpit and get down to the job that I was there to do. To be honest with you, nothing ever felt any different. I prepare for Indy like I prepare for any other race — 100%. And if you prepare differently from Indy than any other race, you’re doing it wrong everywhere else. Let’s take football. You’re in football and you’re in a Super Bowl. Just because you’re at the Super Bowl, to try to win that, are you going to change the way you’ve done things? Are you going to change plays? Are you going to do something totally different? Or you prepare different than you did for the season prior that got you there? No, you’d never win that if you do that. I was never more nervous at Indy than I was was anywhere else. I tried to tweet that, Ed, I’m telling you the same way. I’ll give you another example. You’re at a hotel, and the night before the race, you’re coming from an event, and they see you there at 09:30, the people are like, “Mario, the race is tomorrow. It’s 09:30.” I said, “I don’t go to bed until about 11.” “Oh, my goodness. Why?” “Because that’s when I go to bed all the time at every other race, and that’s when I go to bed and I sleep good.” I don’t go to bed at five in the afternoon because I have a race the next day at Indianapolis, that’s what I’m trying to tell you. And if you do that, there’s something wrong because you’re going to toss and turn all night and you’re going to be nervous. You don’t do things differently; you do things that you know best throughout. And that’s how you’re going to perform the best at Indy or any other race. They’re all important.
Ed Bernardon: So, you get your routine, it works for you, and it doesn’t matter if it’s Indianapolis, Formula One, or dirt track, it’s the same thing.
Mario Andretti: 100%.
Ed Bernardon: But as you’re dropping down into the car, and now you’re sitting there and waiting for the cars to pull away and eventually get the green flag. Is there a change in what you’re feeling like? Are you feeling a little anxious or nervous at first, but then it all goes away as soon as that flag drops? Or is it like, “I can’t wait to go right from the start”?
Mario Andretti: I’ll tell you what, Ed, I cannot emphasize enough, my so-called butterflies were the same size at Indy as they were everywhere else. Trust me, that’s the way it was with me. I don’t know how it is when anybody else. The only difference — the result can be much different, but that takes care of itself. But before the result comes, the approach to me should be the same as anywhere. Every race that I ever entered, my objective was to win it, no matter whether it was realistic or not as far as my chances, but my mindset was always the same. That’s the way I operated.
Ed Bernardon: Do you think your butterflies were the same in the ‘60s, as they were in the ‘80s and the ‘90s toward the end of your career? Did it stay the same?
Mario Andretti: As I aged, the butterflies stayed the same.
Ed Bernardon: You aged but the butterflies didn’t.
Mario Andretti: You know what’s interesting is that you start racing and, of course, there’s a lot of things because you have different types of anxiety because there’s a lot more unknown. So, you do have these butterflies. I kept saying to myself, “Man, I just hope that maybe as I keep racing more and more, these butterflies are going to go away, that I probably wouldn’t have this type of anxiety.” You know what? It didn’t. And I think that’s good. Do you know why it’s good? Because it was important to me right to the very end, to my very last competitive race that was just as important. So, it was nothing as a matter of fact, “Oh, yeah, I got this and this and that.” There’s no such thing. There was always something new, potentially, to experience no matter how long you were in the game. You never ever gotta feel, “Oh, I got this 100%.” No, you better be prepared. So, that’s the beauty of it. And to me, that’s what kept me motivated throughout because it was never blase. There’s a difference. There’s one thing if you’re a parachuter — the early jumps are going to be more. Then after a while, it’s a matter of fact. But that’s different because you’re not against somebody else, all you do is you get used to something easier. In a race car, no single day is the same as the day before. Trust me.
Ed Bernardon: Well, let’s talk a little bit about racing wheel to wheel because you’ve raced against Foyt and the Unsers but they’re not family, and you’ve also raced against your son Michael. So, my question is when you raced against Michael, and you’re about to make a pass or you’re wheel to wheel, did you change your driving style or your level of aggressiveness because it was your boy that was next to you and not AJ Foyt or Al Unser?
Mario Andretti: Well, a little bit, because I knew that I’ll have to deal with my wife. So, I get that in my head. It’s funny that she always used to say, “Mario, it’s your son. Every time you two are wheel to wheel, does it always have to touch? You’re too aggressive.” I said, “Well, we do it. If we’re going to touch wheel, it’s going to be somewhere like in a hairpin or something, it’s not going to be at 300 miles an hour.” So, we made sure that we took care of each other; however, neither one wanted to give an edge, and that was the beauty of it. The competition was there clear between us as solid as it could ever be. We can still talk about those moments, quite honestly, Mike and I have been on a racetrack with Jeff and my nephew, John, also. But Mike and I have had moments because we’ve been on the podium 15 times in an IndyCar race. And we’ve been first and second five times and on the front row 10 times. So, it’s 5, 10, 15. How beautiful is that from where I stand as a father? That’s what racing gave us. And there were a couple of precarious moments in our time together. But as you’re driving aggressively and so forth, there’s always the potential of a mistake, no question. Sometimes if you try to slice somebody and so forth, it could cost you more than the guys you’re trying to do it to. So, everything has to be measured. I’ve been guilty of some mistakes here and there for sure. But especially when you’re up against your own guy, you figure, “Oh, the end, I’m sure it will sprain my neck if I spin them or something.” As a matter of fact, I’ll give you an example. In Poconos, Michael was leading and I was second, and I was trying to overtake him going to turn one. And I came down, and he kind of chopped me a little bit. And someone hit him, I spun and almost broke my shoulder when I hit the wall up there. So, I sacrificed myself, otherwise, I would spun him and maybe crashed into him or whatever. So, that time I for sure sacrificed myself because I wasn’t going to face my wife.
Ed Bernardon: Well, if your wife’s happy with what you’re doing, you probably do a better job on the next race. So, I’m sure that was the right choice. I want to ask you some questions here about the future of racing because a lot of things are changing in racing. The first question is if you could implement a new rule right away, let’s say for IndyCar or Formula One, any idea of what that rule might be?
Mario Andretti: I have no idea right now, as far as it’s not as easy. The idea is to try to make cars even aerodynamically in such a way that it’s easier to follow, and so on and so forth. Everybody’s trying to do that — every series, the technical side are trying very hard to make it possible because what makes a race interesting when there’s a lot of overtaking? And I think a lot of what is being done right now is if I would have the answer to a rule that would be exactly what we need, I would bottle it and sell it.
Ed Bernardon: There’s a lot of emphasis now—for instance, Extreme E and Formula E—for racing to emphasize sustainability and diversity. How important do you think it is for racing to do that?
Mario Andretti: Well, racing is part of technical innovation, there’s room for everything, that’s why you have all these categories: Formula E, Extreme E, Rally, and everything. But this moment is always a drive to try to make things more efficient. Just reduce the carbon footprint and be an example. Just come up with something as efficient as possible that can be filtered down to the production side. It’s a testbed. So, I encourage all of these aspects of technology — no question. The one thing that I don’t endorse is the fact that you think, “Oh, yeah, everything is going to go electric.” I don’t think that’s sustainable either, there’s another problem in that respect. So, don’t talk to me about that part.
Ed Bernardon: All right, we’ll let that go. Mario, listen, thank you so much here. Before I let you go, though, I want to ask you some really quick questions — so, quick question, quick answer. We call it Rapid Fire. You’re used to going fast, so rapid-fire, racing fast questions. Are you ready?
Mario Andretti: Shoot and aim correctly.
Ed Bernardon: All right, I’m aiming right for you here. So, here’s the first one. Now, when you gave your speech when you were inducted to the Automotive Hall of Fame, you said, “If pure love for the automobile is the only criterion for the award, then I deserve it.” So, what was the first car you fell in love with?
Mario Andretti: My 1957 Chevy. And I was a king of the block there, along with my brother Aldo. That was our first new car as a family. And that’s it. ‘57 Chevy.
Ed Bernardon: Can you tell us your best speeding ticket story?
Mario Andretti: The one I got away with.
Ed Bernardon: How many are those?
Mario Andretti: A few.
Ed Bernardon: If you could have had a career in anything else besides racing, what would you have picked?
Mario Andretti: That of a fighter pilot.
Ed Bernardon: That’s even faster. Do you have a favorite fighter plane?
Mario Andretti: Most favorite, F-15, F-16, F-111, what’s what I had experience in.
Ed Bernardon: So, you’ve been in one then?
Mario Andretti: Oh, I’ve been in more than one.
Ed Bernardon: If you had a five-hour car ride, what person, living or not, would you want to spend that five-hour car ride? Anyone from the past or living today, who would you want with you for a five-hour car ride?
Mario Andretti: Enzo Ferrari.
Ed Bernardon: What would you ask him?
Mario Andretti: A lot of things.
Ed Bernardon: What’s the fastest you’ve ever driven a regular car on a normal road, not a racetrack? No? We’ll take that as your answer. You have to watch the video to see the answer to that one. Your greatest talent, not related to racing?
Mario Andretti: To relax.
Ed Bernardon: I guess that gets you ready for the next race then?
Mario Andretti: Yes.
Ed Bernardon: If you could magically invent one thing at the snap of your fingers, what would that be?
Mario Andretti: How to walk on air.
Ed Bernardon: Well, that’s a good one. If you could un-invent one thing that’s been invented in the history of humankind, what would it be?
Mario Andretti: I’ll try to uninvent ignorance.
Ed Bernardon: I think that’s the best answer I’ve ever got to that question. And here it is, this is the final question: Tell us something about yourself that would surprise your friends and family, something they don’t know about you.
Mario Andretti: I think that I’m easy to satisfy.
Ed Bernardon: They wouldn’t agree with that, that would be a surprise. Mario, grazie per essere venuto su cont Future Car podcast.
Mario Andretti: Thanks for having me, Ed.
Ed Bernardon: Oh, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much.
Mario Andretti: All the best to you.
Ed Bernardon: All the best to you, too.
Mario Andretti | Racing Icon and Library of Congress Living Legend
Mario Andretti was named a Library Of Congress Living Legend that has had a great impact on our society, culture, and technology. He was knighted in his native Italy, GQ Magazine named him one of the 25 Coolest Athletes of all time and he was in the first Pixar Cars movie voicing himself. In addition to all that, he is considered by many to be the greatest racecar driver in history as the only one to have won the Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500, and the Formula One championship.
Ed Bernardon | Vice President Strategic Automotive Intiatives – Host
Ed is currently VP Strategic Automotive Initiatives at Siemens Digital Industries Software. Responsibilities include strategic planning in areas of design of autonomous/connected vehicles, lightweight automotive structures and interiors. He is also responsible for Future Car thought leadership including hosting the Future Car Podcast and development of cross divisional projects. Previously a founding member of VISTAGY that developed light-weight structure and automotive interior design software acquired by Siemens in 2011. Ed holds an M.S.M.E. from MIT, B.S.M.E. from Purdue, and MBA from Butler.
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The Future Car Podcast
Transportation plays a big part in our everyday life and with autonomous and electric cars, micro-mobility and air taxis to name a few, mobility is changing at a rate never before seen. On the Siemens Future Car Podcast we interview industry leaders creating our transportation future to inform our listeners in an entertaining way about the evolving mobility landscape and the people that are helping us realize it. Guests range from C-Level OEM executives, mobility startup founders/CEO’s, pioneers in AI law, Formula 1 drivers and engineers, Smart Cities architects, government regulators and many more. Tune in to learn what will be in your mobility future.