John Andretti, who passed away Thursday after a lengthy battle with colon cancer, was blessed with a well-known surname and famous family members.
But he also was a versatile and successful race car driver in his own right, competing across several motorsports disciplines.
Those included sports car racing (including winning the 1989 Rolex 24 Hours); USAC; open-wheel racing in CART, IRL and IndyCar; in all three major NASCAR series; and even spent time competing in NHRA Top Fuel racing and USAC.
NASCAR President Steve Phelps said of Andretti:
“John Andretti embodied the spirit of a champion and inspired an entire fan base through his courageous battle with cancer. He was a fierce competitor throughout his life, and we are saddened by his passing. The entire NASCAR family extends its deepest condolences and prayers to John’s family.”
Many of those in the motorsports world who knew Andretti took to social media to express their condolences:
Rest In Peace #JohnAndretti. The best godfather. Your passion for Motorsport was admirable. Always the good ones we lose too soon. 🙏🏽 #checkit4andretti pic.twitter.com/WtpSPDzdsV
— Marco Andretti (@MarcoAndretti) January 30, 2020
John gave 100% to everything he did.He fought this terrible disease the same way. He was a GREAT husband,father,and friend. I will remember him for his integrity,honesty,loyalty, compassion,passion for motorsports & ability behind the wheel.We lost a good man #checkitforandretti https://t.co/iEq05fHPL1
— Jeff Burton (@JeffBurton) January 30, 2020
God Speed John Andretti. My heart is heavy with overwhelming sadness. I know his last name was Andretti, but for our family it was always Petty. All my thoughts, prayers and love go out to the entire Andretti Family
— Kyle Petty (@kylepetty) January 30, 2020
Rip John Andretti. You were a great man!
— Bobby Labonte (@Bobby_Labonte) January 30, 2020
— Richard Petty Motorsports (@RPMotorsports) January 30, 2020
Man… sending thoughts and prayers to all. https://t.co/9eHOtE1tbc
— Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) January 30, 2020
I admired John as a racer, but what always impressed me was his desire to help others. He did it with fellow racers and teams, and he did it as he battled cancer. #CheckIt4Andretti is more than just a hashtag. https://t.co/r3Q95wcfrx
— Tony Stewart (@TonyStewart) January 30, 2020
My heart is aching for the Andretti family. John was so good to my Dad when he was in the sport. Praying for his family and loved ones 🙏💕 #cancerhurtssomany #sucks https://t.co/sXLR4ZPo6J
— Sherry Pollex (@SherryPollex) January 30, 2020
I’m Thankful for the time I had with John on & off the Track… without question, what made him most special to me was his Love for Family & Friends. https://t.co/qEkMYyddcQ
— Ricky Craven (@RickyCraven32) January 30, 2020
It’s difficult for someone with the racing pedigree of @John_Andretti to be remembered first for things away from the track.
But, his legacy will be his kind spirit, warm smile, & tireless work in raising millions for @RileyChildrens hospital.
God speed to an Indy treasure.
— Jake Query (@jakequery) January 30, 2020
If you grew up a sports car nerd like I did in the 80’s and 90’s you loved seeing John Andretti getting to race Indycars and NASCAR because you felt like he was one of our guys. The High Life 962 is one of the most iconic liveries of my lifetime. What a loss.. #CheckIt4Andretti pic.twitter.com/DlcucPT5kR
— Ryan Eversley (@RyanEversley) January 30, 2020
Our condolences go out to the Andretti family on the passing of John Andretti. 🙏 John was the first driver to pull "Double Duty" in May of 1994. #CheckItForAndretti pic.twitter.com/uVk9j0zzz9
— Charlotte Motor Speedway (@CLTMotorSpdwy) January 30, 2020
We’ll remember John Andretti for moments like these. In the Spring of 1999, he led 24 laps at Richmond, taking the lead from none other than @JeffGordonWeb to do it.#CheckItForAndretti pic.twitter.com/GaI7seVY5R
— Richmond Raceway (@RichmondRaceway) January 30, 2020
I can’t believe this.. literally can’t.. the reason I’m in @NASCAR is because of my dear friend who always worked for others instead of himself … F cancer… so sad about this. Love you @John_Andretti @FollowAndretti pic.twitter.com/pFPtZx33hE
— Marcus Lemonis (@marcuslemonis) January 30, 2020
A helluva racer and a helluva fighter who worked hard to raise awareness about early detection for colon cancer. Gone too soon. God speed, John Andretti. #CheckItForAndretti https://t.co/BccAdTTHFT
— Stewart-Haas Racing (@StewartHaasRcng) January 30, 2020
Godspeed John Andretti. My first IndyCar teammate. A true racer and great human. I am heartbroken for Nancy, Jarett, Olivia, Amelia, and the entire Andretti family. I will miss your sense of humor the most. Please #checkitforAndretti https://t.co/t7mXYnbaqk
— Bryan Herta (@BryanHerta) January 30, 2020
Sad day for Motorsports. RIP #JohnAndretti prayers to the whole Andretti family during this time. Fly high 🙏🏼
— Sage Karam (@SageKaram) January 30, 2020
Sad news today, we lost another great soul to cancer. Rest In Peace John Andretti. Always brought a smile to my face anytime I was around him. What a great driver, competitor, mentor, dad, husband & friend. #checkit4andtetti
— Ryan Hunter-Reay (@RyanHunterReay) January 30, 2020
At Wilksboro @TheSceneVault ran a story about @John_Andretti not long after he started running with us. He stated “Rick Mast is the only one that hasn’t me”. Darn if I didn’t get into him that day. Wonderful man and family. RIP
— Rick Mast (@rickmast22) January 30, 2020
Completely bummed about @John_Andretti passing today. I was lucky enough to work with John in dirt track, IMSA, NHRA & at he Indy 500. He was one of the greatest people I have worked with and loved he & Nancy so much.Recently worked with Jarett in PWC too. God Speed, My Friend !! pic.twitter.com/RS12bHEfVy
— Tom Blattler (@TBlattler) January 30, 2020
There were also several statements released, including these:
Steve Phelps, NASCAR president: “John Andretti embodied the spirit of a champion and inspired an entire fan base through his courageous battle with cancer. He was a fierce competitor throughout his life, and we are saddened by his passing. The entire NASCAR family extends its deepest condolences and prayers to John’s family.”
Penske Entertainment Corp. President & CEO Mark Miles, on behalf of INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway: “John Andretti’s skills behind the wheel of any kind of race car were admired by his millions of fans around the world, and he always returned that loyalty and kindness to become one of the most popular drivers of his generation. But John’s true mission was helping others, whether through his countless hours of charity work, especially with Riley Children’s Hospital here in Indianapolis, or by the colon screening campaign he started in April 2017 after he was diagnosed with cancer. John’s positive attitude and selflessness throughout his brave fight inspired all of us and will be a legacy that will continue forever. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife, Nancy, their three children and the entire Andretti family.”
Clay Campbell, Martinsville Speedway president: “On behalf of everyone at Martinsville Speedway I want to share my deepest condolences to Nancy, Jarett, Olivia, Amelia and the entire Andretti family. John was a winner in everything he set out to do and always did it with class and dignity. One of my fondest memories with him was watching him celebrate his victory at Martinsville Speedway in 1999. Although John’s courageous battle with cancer might be over, his memory and legacy will be remembered for years to come by everyone who was fortunate to know him.”
John Doonan, IMSA President: “We are devastated by the news that our dear friend, John Andretti, has passed away. John was an extremely talented IMSA racer, as his 1989 Rolex 24 victory and three other victories will attest. But he was one of the most versatile racers ever, winning races in IndyCar and NASCAR and reaching the pinnacle of top fuel drag racing as well. Our thoughts and prayers are with John’s family, friends and many colleagues, and he will be missed by many throughout our motorsports community.”