ICON : Mario at the IMS Museum

The photos of a very young Mario Andretti like the one above jolted me back to 1965 when this rookie showed up for the Indianapolis 500. He was fast and became an instant fan favorite. Andretti earned Rookie of the Year honors and won his first Indycar race later that summer.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of his 1969 Indianapolis 500 win, the Mario Andretti ICON exhibit now on display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway takes visitors on a tour of Mario’s racing career from sprint cars to his final race. His many stops include Formula 1 and the 1978 World Championship and a victory in the Daytona 500 in 1967.

I really like the special exhibits the IMS Museum has done- A. J. Foyt, the Unsers, and now Mario. One thing that does disturb is how many of the cars on display I saw race.  You’d think I was old or something.

The car that fascinated me the most was the Ted Horn Offenhauser sprint car which Andretti drove in four United Racing Club events in 1961. These races were the beginning of his sprint career. The car’s new owner put a Cadillac engine in it. Andretti had three top 10s in the four races in this car.  The car as seen in the museum is as it was when Horn drove it in the post war forties.

The exhibit recalls what to many was the Golden Age of Racing. Drivers drove any type of car any time. It goes beyond the cold statistics of Andretti’s career and presents us a versatile driver who could win no matter what series he drove in.  I think that is something sorely lacking today.

The room where other exhibits had memorabilia displayed was closed for a private event. I hope there are more items than the dozen or so displayed in the north hall.  Below are a few photos.  This is a must see exhibit which I’m not sure my descriptions have done justice.


I just received this message from the IMS Museum:

1965 Indianapolis 500 Rookie car
1964- First Indycar ride
1970- Dirt car. This was the last season Indycar raced on 1 mile dirt tracks
1978- Formula 1 World Champion
1984- Winner of the 500 mile race at Michigan international Speedway
1994- Andretti’s car in his final Indycar season

2 thoughts on “ICON : Mario at the IMS Museum

  1. I wonder whatever happened to his McNamara from 1970-71. I was hoping it would be there, just as a curiosity. Glad to see the 1994 Arrivederci Mario car is there. Although it was a sled on the track, I always thought the 1994 Lola had the most graceful lines of any race car over the past forty years. I just hope it’s not a ‘93 passed off as the ‘94.


    1. I was surprised at some cars not there and surprised at some that were. It does present a better overall picture of all his rides than the Foyt and Under exhibits in my opinion.


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