Marco Andretti looking forward to Toronto race
Marco Andretti tried hard yesterday not to roll his eyes when asked about his dad's record seven wins at the newly coined Honda Toronto Indy.
|Marco, Michael and Mario Andretti|
"Was it really seven?" the 22-year old asked in mock disbelief as he was surrounded by a bevy of scantily-clad Budweiser girls in Toronto to promote the return to Exhibition Place of IndyCar racing on July 12.
Just a few meters away, Michael Andretti couldn't help but overhear his son's answer to the question about living up to racing's most recognizable family name.
"You know," Michael said. "I've never talked to him about (winning seven times in Toronto). It's hard enough just being who he is. I don't want to put any more pressure on him."
Who Marco is, is the grandson of Mario Andretti, the greatest racer car driver of his era -- and arguably of all time -- as well as son of the man who is co-owner of his Andretti-Green Racing team and promoter of this year's Toronto race.
But the youngster has his own goals and ambitions -- and yes, that includes a win this year on the temporary street course along Lake Shore Blvd.
"I don't remember much about (his dad's) wins at Toronto. I was pretty young (he was just seven when Michael won his first Toronto race in 1994)," Marco said. "But what I do remember is the big crowds and how great the fans were."
He noted, however, that his immediate goal is to do something his famous father never has been able to do, and something his grandfather did only once -- win the Indianapolis 500.
"My focus right now is on May 24," Marco said. "There has been a lot of futility for our family at Indy."
Call it the Andretti Curse, or whatever. Marco refuses to indulge in such talk, even though he was less than one lap from winning it all two years ago only to see Sam Hornish Jr. pass him just 200 yards from the finish line.
"We have a good car and a good team," Marco said. "This could be the year."
He admitted it might help if he could take some of his family's fans in Toronto to Indy to cheer him on.
Those fans have been on the Andretti bandwagon right from the time Mario first competed here in the inaugural Toronto race in 1986.
"I think it has something to do with us being Italian," Michael Andretti said yesterday. "The Italian community has supported us through all the years we raced here."
As promoter for the 2009 version of the race, Michael Andretti also admits he hopes that connection still exists.
"It would be nice to see that community get down to Exhibition Place to see the race this year," he said.
Marco, however, would like to start a tradition of his own -- a first win at Indy and a start at equaling Michael's mark in Toronto. Toronto Sun