Racing, Drivers Education, autocross, and other motorsports
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By David993S
#52476
I mentioned in the early days of OR I had a good Michael Andretti story I would tell some time. Kind of long, but here goes:

Back in the early 80's I was, for a couple of years, an SCCA racing instructor (and raced in SCCA for nearly 20 years). That's how it worked back then with SCCA - you had to successfully complete two SCCA driver's schools. If you weren't a moving chicane you got a Novice Permit, and could start racing at the Regional level with some car markings to show you were a beginner so other drivers would know to stay away from the new Squirrel on track. :wink:

I was instructing at Nelson Ledges one weekend, when on Friday late afternoon, a huge semi truck/trailer pulls into the track. (keep in mind, most driver's school entrants, especially at Nelson, were there with basic race cars, no or limited crew, beat-up open trailers pulled with a van or pickup.....the definition of "amateur budget racer"). Out of the semi steps four professional looking crew members, along with........Michael Andretti. He was embarking on his racing career and was starting with getting an SCCA racing license. Inside the trailer were three (3) brand new Formula Fords. Needless to say, he, his crew, their rig, and his cars stood out like a sore thumb among all the budget racers.

I wasn't Michael's instructor that weekend ( I had the Production cars) but I, along with everyone else, watched him closely. As the weekend went on, he progressed quite rapidly. I'll give him credit for having some innate ability inherited, no doubt, from his father. But here's the thing - he wrote off (damaged sufficiently so that they were not drivable) two of the FF's by Sunday morning and had to go to his 3rd FF in order to finish the weekend and participate in the school race on Sunday afternoon.

My epiphany? I was young and it made me realize that talent alone isn't enough and money really does buy speed. It also lets you push the envelope and climb the learning curve much faster. I realized that if when I went to my first driver's schools and first races, I probably could have progressed much more rapidly had I not had to be concerned with making sure I didn't break or crash my race car so I could go to the next race.

We all know the rest of Michael's story. But that's how he got his racing start.

P.S. Mario and Michael were often referred to as "Snit and Snot" by corner workers. I was never really sure which one was which.
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By Scott at Team Harco
#52554
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By Scott at Team Harco
#52577
SeanR wrote: Tue Jan 19, 2021 6:49 pm Pretty cool story, thanks for sharing.
Agreed. Thank you. It just reminded me of how intense the Andrettis have always been. The video I posted just shows how they were always looking to gain an edge on the competition. Even during yellow-flag conditions, they were fighting to pick-up time. Sometimes it caught them out.

I was hanging out on the Friday, leading up to the race in Detroit. We stayed home on Sunday, to watch it on TV. I still shake my head every time I think of the two of them crashing out under caution...
I can't believe I did that!

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