(Photo: NASCAR via Getty Images)

John Andretti Passes Away at 56

Longtime racer John Andretti passed away Thursday at the age of 56, according to a Twitter statement from Andretti Autosport.

Andretti was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2017 and underwent treatment, but relapsed twice in the following two years. Despite his battle, he used it to begin the #CheckIt4Andretti hashtag on Twitter, encouraging the public to get colonoscopies for prevention.

The nephew of racing legend Mario Andretti, John raced in just about every major series in existence – all three NASCAR touring series, USAC Champ Car, CART, IMSA, drag racing, the NTT IndyCar Series and the Rolex Grand-Am Sports Car Series.

“It is with heavy hearts we share that John Andretti has today lost his battle with cancer,” Andretti Autosport’s statement said. “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.”

Andretti was born in 1963 and first drove professionally in the IMSA GT Championship Series in 1986, winning at Watkins Glen. Along with two other co-drivers, he also won the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in 1989.

Most of Andretti’s career was spent in the NASCAR Cup Series, most notably for Kranefuss-Haas Racing, Cale Yarborough Motorsports and Petty Enterprises. He recorded a pair of wins in 393 starts over 17 years, while scoring 37 top-10 finishes. 13 of those were top-five efforts.

Andretti’s two wins in NASCAR Cup competition came at the tail end of the 20th century, his first coming in the 1997 summer race at Daytona International Speedway. Driving the No. 98, Andretti started third and led 113 laps en route to a victory for Cale Yarborough.

The veteran’s second and final win came at Martinsville in 1999, driving the No. 43 for Petty Enterprises. Andretti only led the last four laps, but took home the grandfather clock.

He also added one win apiece in CART and the Rolex Grand-Am divisions.

“We will forever carry with us John’s genuine spirit of helping others first and himself second,” the statement concluded. “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.”

Support Frontstretch on Patreon

About Adam Cheek

Avatar
Adam Cheek joined Frontstretch as a contributing writer in January 2019. A 2020 graduate of VCU, he works as a producer and talent for Entercom Richmond's radio station. In addition to motorsports journalism, Adam also covered and broadcasted numerous VCU athletics for the campus newspaper and radio station during his four years there. He's been a racing fan since the age of three, inheriting the passion from his grandfather, who raced in amateur events up and down the East Coast in the 1950s.

Check Also

Noah Gragson Moves Teammate Justin Allgaier for Cheddar’s 300 Victory at Bristol

Noah Gragson claimed a controversial second win of the NASCAR Xfinity Series season Monday night …

10 comments

  1. Avatar

    RIP to a great guy and talented driver.

  2. Avatar

    been waiting to hear this for a while now. knew he wasn’t doing well. i hate cancer. tired of learning about people i know being stricken with it.

    john was a good guy. always had time for fans at track.

  3. Avatar

    He seemed like a good guy to me. RIP John.
    Very sad to hear this.

  4. Avatar

    Oof, first Kobe and now this. RIP

  5. Avatar

    A lot of “NASCAR” fans never knew just how versatile this guy was. I was a fan partly because like his uncle, he raced all kinds of things.

  6. Avatar

    My father passed away last week from cancer. If I can say anything positive out of all of this is that his suffering is over. While I am saddened by his psssing, it is comforting that John and my dad are now in a better place and no longer in agony. Godspeed to them.

  7. Avatar

    Rest in Peace John. Truly one of the nice guys in racing.