Racing Legend Mario Andretti Celebrates Milestone With Own Street in Downtown Indianapolis
There are many folk stories that bear the name Mario Andretti around Indianapolis. From having his own booth at Indy’s St. Elmo’s steak house to the famous words “Who do you think you are, Mario Andretti?” told by Indiana State Troopers to speeding drivers, the man is an icon in the Circle City, but during the month of May, he’s a lot more than that. And now, the IndyCar and F1 racing legend can say there’s a busy city street named after him.
Locals wondered what the heck was going on in downtown Indianapolis Monday morning as they witnessed 70-year-old Andretti strap on a safety harness and climb into a bucket truck. Was he filming a commercial, doing some sort of publicity stunt or sponsor commitment for his Andretti Autosport IndyCar racing team? Nope, he was actually installing a bright street sign that read Mario Andretti Drive.
Located at one of the busiest and most picturesque intersections of downtown Indy, Mario Andretti Dr. honors what Andretti has done for American open-wheel racing and celebrates the 50th anniversary of his victory at the 1969 Indy 500. Despite Andretti enjoying his own street at his hometown of Nazareth, Pennsylvania, this is the first time a city is named after him in the racing capital of the world. Unfortunately, the sign will be removed after the 500 festivities conclude at the end of the month, and the intersection will go back to its regular street names.
The Andretti last name carries as much weight around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as Unser and Foyt, two other dynasties that have accomplished more (in terms of wins, at least) at the famous Brickyard. Even with just one win under his belt, not counting the 1981 fiasco with Bobby Unser, the Andretti Allure has helped spread the word of the Indy 500 far and wide, which only makes us think that the street name should remain permanently. Don’t you think?
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