LONG BEACH, Calif. – Mario Andretti, who won three Indy car races and the 1977 Formula One race on the streets of Long Beach, Calif., will be the grand marshal of the 40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 13.
“It is totally appropriate to have Mario as grand marshal for our 40th race,” said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Ass’n of Long Beach. “Over the years, he has been an important part of our history and heritage, and we’re happy to honor his contributions to the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in this way.”
Andretti won the 1984, ’85 and ’87 CART-sanctioned races on the 1.67-mile temporary circuit, while his son, Michael, won the 1986 race (Mario started third and finished fifth). The ’84 race was the opener of Mario Andretti’s last of four (3 USAC, 1 CART) championship seasons.
“I raced for four decades on just about every course imaginable,” said Andretti, whose grandson, Marco, will compete in the race in the No. 25 Andretti Autosport car. “And I have been associated with the Grand Prix of Long Beach since its beginning in 1975. So I think I speak with authority when I say that it is by far the most successful street race ever staged in American motor racing history.
“Obviously, the fondest memories I have of the streets of Long Beach are my victories, but the entertainment and ambiance away from the track has also become classic. No one leaves Long Beach without vowing to come back. It is truly amongst the best I’ve ever seen and I’m proud to be serving as grand marshal this year.”
Andretti also will be honored during the race weekend at the annual Road Racing Drivers Club event.