IndyCar and NASCAR veteran John Andretti has passed away following a three-year battle with colon cancer. He was 56.
Andretti was first diagnosed in April 2017 and twice seemed to have successfully beaten the disease, but ultimately succumbed to it on January 30.
The news was announced via a statement posted by Andretti Autosport on social media.
“It is with the heaviest of hearts we share that John Andretti has today lost his battle with cancer,” read the statement. “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.”
Andretti, son of Mario Andretti’s twin brother Aldo made his IndyCar debut in 1987 driving for Curb Racing. He finished his maiden race at Road America in sixth and in a partial campaign that featured five outings at the end of the year he finished outside the top-10 just once.
After a tough few years, Andretti scored his only open-wheel win in the 1991 season opener at Surfers Paradise. A second podium finish followed at Milwaukee, with Andretti finishing the year eighth overall in what was his strongest season.
Across 1990-1992 John was part of the Andretti family’s record Indianapolis 500 presence. He raced alongside his uncle Mario, and cousins Michael and Jeff, marking the first time four members of the same family had competed in the famed race.
Andretti made the move to NASCAR in 1993 and it was there where he enjoyed more success. In a 17-year spell in stock car racing Andretti notched up two NASCAR Cup series poles, two race wins – the 1997 July Daytona race and at Martinsville in 1999 – and 37 top-10s.
While competing in NASCAR Andretti continued to make sporadic IndyCar appearances, in particular at the Indy 500. In 1993 he became the first driver to compete in both the open-wheel crown jewel and the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race on the same day.
He was also a serial winner in the IMSA sports car series and the Top Fuel division of NHRA drag racing, where he enjoyed instant success – reaching the semi-finals on his debut.