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Up Close And Personal
 
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Mario and his wife Dee Ann

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Alberto Ascari was Mario's first racing idol. Mario saw him race only once -- at Monza in 1954.

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One of Mario's fiercest competitors throughout his IndyCar career was A.J. Foyt. If you could beat A.J., you beat the best.

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Mario prepares for an F-16 ride at Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix (1984)

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Graham Hill (left) had a wonderful, unexpected sense of humor. He easily entertained Mario and Roger Penske (right) at the track.

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Mario called his maternal grandparents Nonna Tina and Nonno Piero.

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Gonzo, a yellow Amazon parrot, has an amusing vocabulary with a hearty laugh and keeps Mario in stitches.

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The late, great pot-bellied pig Martini was Mario's beloved household pet for 18 years.

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Max, the family's pug, rules the roost.

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Mario's first job was working at Uncle Louie's gas station in Nazareth with his twin brother, Aldo.

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Mario in his Lotus at Monaco, a venue favored for its driving challenge and unequalled ambience

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Son Michael proved to be one of Mario's toughest competitors on the track. Finishing together on the podium made for many proud moments.

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Mario and dear friend Paul Newman

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One of Mario's closest friends in racing was his Lotus teammate, Ronnie Peterson.

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Mario's very first new car was a 1957 red, two-door Chevy with a white hardtop.

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Mario has the utmost respect for Sir Stirling Moss, another one of his racing heroes.

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Mario with twin brother Aldo and sister Anna Maria

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To Please A Lady was titled Indianapolis in Italy when Mario saw the movie as a child. It remains one of his favorites.

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Mario's parents never got to see the Andretti Winery in Napa, CA. They would have loved the vineyards and been so proud.

Full Name: Mario Gabriele Andretti
Birthplace/Birthdate: Born in Montona, Italy on February 28, 1940
Current Residence: Nazareth, Pennsylvania

Wife: Dee Ann (married November 25, 1961)
Three Children: Michael (10/5/62), Jeffrey (4/14/64) and Barbra (7/13/69)
Five Grandchildren: Marco, Marissa, Miranda, Isabella, Lucca, Miati, Mario
Two Siblings: Twin brother Aldo, and older sister Anna Maria
Arrived in US from Italy:  June 16, 1955
Became a naturalized US citizen:  April 7, 1965


Q&A

Do you still feel like you're a part of racing?

I'm definitely still part of racing and loving it. If I didn't, I wouldn't be following it so intensely and studying every series. I still watch every race - Formula One, IndyCar, motorcycles, NASCAR.

If racing had not been your occupation, what would?

A fighter pilot. In 1985, I was invited to fly in an F-15. Since then I've flown in an F-16 and F-111. The only one I haven't been in is the F-18 Hornet which lands on aircraft carriers. That's on my bucket list.

What else is on your bucket list?

I'd like to travel to places I've never been: Prague, Budapest, Russia, New Delhi, Antarctica, Mumbai, Mars.

Favorite movie?

The one I really enjoyed as a kid was To Please a Lady with Clark Gable and Barbara Stanwyck. It was about a racer. Actually, the title of the movie in Italy was Indianapolis. I was so captivated, completely mesmerized.

Favorite music?

When we were living in Italy, my dad sometimes worked as an extra at the local theater during opera season. When he was hired, we got free tickets up in the peanut gallery. Even as a kid the opera spoke to me. I loved it. Opera was also something we heard all the time on radio; it was quite common in our house. As a result, I have had a lifelong love of the opera.

What is something about you that nobody would guess?

I can sing a number of opera arias from beginning to end in Italian (you'll have to take my word for it).

What is your fondest memory of your grandparents?

Everything they did was festive. They owned a small hotel and restaurant in our town in Italy. Every Sunday the entire family gathered for a special event.

What was your first job?

Working at my uncle Louie's Sunoco gas station in Nazareth, Pennsylvania when I was 15. My brother and I both worked there.

Favorite dessert?

Dark chocolate gelato is bliss.

You're hosting a dinner party for your favorite people. What's on the menu?

I'm grilling veal chops.