A chance to add to Andretti legacy at Long Beach
Because the Indy Racing League and Champ Car have ended their hostilities that splintered open-wheel racing for 12 years, a familiar name once again will be navigating the downtown streets at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 16-19. It's a name that has played a vital part in the great event across the decades, not to mention a vital part in the sport of car racing.
|Now is the time for Marco Andretti. At 21 he must start challenging for wins on a regular basis if he is to continue Andretti legacy|
Indeed, 21-year-old Marco Andretti, son of Michael Andretti, grandson of Mario Andretti, will be returning to a city where his family has etched a sacred legacy across the decades.
You must understand that Mario Andretti still is given credit for throwing a lifeline to Chris Pook's troubled Formula One race in 1977 with a thrilling victory that staunched the ominous financial bleeding.
Andretti would become a fixture in Long Beach's highest profile affair, as he would go on to win three more races here to secure himself a spot in this city's Motorsports Walk of Fame in front of the Convention Center on Pine Avenue.
And, of course, Michael Andretti also did well in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, as he received the checkered flag twice.
And now Marco Andretti, who is starting his fourth season on the IRL circuit, soon will be making his Long Beach debut, a development that has him excited.
"I'm really looking forward to the opportunity of racing in Long Beach," Andretti said the other evening over the phone from his Miami home after spending the afternoon road testing at Sebring.
"Obviously, it's been a place nice to our family. I'm just hoping I can carry on the tradition."
Andretti said he's been to Long Beach a couple of times, but doesn't retain any memories.
"I think the first time I was there I was in diapers, and the second time I was about 3," he says with a laugh. "I just don't remember anything about the race."
But Marco Andretti said he will be ready.
He was bursting with optimism after a day of speeding around the Sebring track in his Andretti Green Team No. 26 car.
"I think we have a shot at the IRL championship with this car," he says. "Of course, you can have the best car, and things can happen. The last two years we've showcased our potential, but the results haven't been what we expected. We've led races at different tracks, but some things just went wrong. My goal this year is to be more consistent. In racing, you can have a good car, but you need a little luck to go with it." More at Long Beach Press Telegram