John Andretti loses courageous battle against colon cancer

John Andretti loses courageous battle against colon cancer
Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images

NASCAR and IndyCar driver John Andretti died on Thursday, the Andretti Autosport organization confirmed on Thursday.

The second-generation racer, son of Aldo Andretti, nephew of Mario Andretti, husband of Nancy and father of Jarett, Olivia and Amelia, was 56.

Andretti Autosport released the following statement:

“It with the heaviest of hearts we share that John Andretti has today lost his battle with cancer. John was a loving husband and father, a devoted son and a trusted cousin. He was a philanthropist, an advocate for the sport, a dedicated teammate, a driven competitor and most importantly a dear friend.  

“Through Race4Riley, John spent decades dedicating his time and fundraising attention to Riley Hospital for Children. When first diagnosed with colon cancer in 2017, John vowed to fight back and use his voice to help spread the word of prevention and early detection. He fought hard and stole back days the disease vowed to take away. He helped countless others undergo proper screening, and in doing so, saved lives. 

“We will forever carry with us John’s genuine spirit of helping others first and himself second. Our prayers today are with Nancy, Jarett, Olivia and Amelia, with our entire family, and with fans worldwide. 
“We urge all our followers to, please, #CheckIt4Andretti.”

The affable racer rose through the open-wheel ranks but found his way to stock cars in 1993. Over 17 seasons, Andretti competed in 393 NASCAR Cup races and posted two wins, four poles, 13 top-fives and 47 top 10 finishes. 

Perhaps his most notable motorsports accomplishment was becoming the first Cup driver to run the NASCAR/IndyCar double between the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 in 1994. Andretti finished 10th at Indy driving the No. 33 AJ Foyt entry, then flew to Charlotte and climbed into the No. 14 Chevrolet for Billy Hagan. Andretti completed 220 of 400 laps at Charlotte Motor Speedway before the crankshaft failed on the Team Hagan ride. 

Later that season, Andretti joined another iconic racing family—Petty Enterprises--when he over driving duties in the No. 43 Pontiac. After stints with Michael Kranefuss and Cale Yarborough, where he earned his first victory in the 1997 July Daytona race, Andretti returned to Petty Enterprises in 1998. He scored his second win behind the wheel of the No. 43 car at Martinsville Speedway in 1999.

Andretti competed in 12 Indianapolis 500s. He scored one top-five and four top 10s.

"We lost a husband, father and friend," said John's son Jarett in a release. "My Dad was my mentor, my best friend and I will forever miss him. His memory will live on through his charitable work with Race4Riley and the movement he started with #CheckIt4Andretti.

"The outpouring of support we have received has been unbelievable. Dad touched so many people over his career and I am thankful for every message."


In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that gifts can be made to: 

Window World Cares 
118 Shaver Street
North Wilkesboro, NC 28659 

Riley’s Children’s Foundation 
30 S. Meridian Street, Ste 200
Indianapolis, IN 46024

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