Unique piece of Mario Andretti history up for grabs

Mario Andretti at the 1965 Indianapolis 500

An early piece of Mario Andretti history is currently up for grabs.

Regarded as one of the finest all-round drivers of all time, Andretti successful campaigned in Formula 1, IndyCar, NASCAR, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

He proved a standout performer in each, winning the 1978 world championship, 1984 IndyCar World Series, the Daytona 500 in 1967, and winning his class at the wheel of a Courage C34-Porsche at Le Mans in 1995.

His rise to prominence began in the early 1960s, initially in midgets before switching to open-wheel racing.

Almost immediately he established himself as a star of the sport, and became a member of the 100 MPH Club at the 1965 Indianapolis 500 – his rookie appearance.

Andretti finished third behind the legendary Jim Clark and Parnelli Jones in the race, and was named Rooke of the Year for his performance.

It wasn’t his only accolade, as he also joined the prestigious ‘100MPH Club’.

Sponsored by Champion Spark Plugs, from 1935 until 1969 any driver who completed all 500 miles of the famed Indy event at an average speed of greater than 100mph were inducted.

New members were presented with a jacket emblazoned with the club logo on the breast pocket.

It is that jacket, as presented to Andretti in 1965, which is currently up for grabs.

Signed by the now-81-year-old in silver pen, the jacket is faultless in its presentation, including unmarked brass buttons.

It’s part of a private Mario Andretti collection in Australia.

Throughout his glittering career, Andretti appeared at the Indianapolis 500 every year from 1965 to his retirement in 1994, the only exception being the 1979 edition.

He won the race, billed by the Americans as ‘the greatest spectacle in racing’, only once – leading Dan Gurney to the line in 1969.

It was a race that included world champions Denny Hulme and Jack Brabham, neither of whom saw the chequered flag.

That race was also the first in which the 100MPH Club had no new inductees, with the club quietly folding in the early 1970s.

CLICK HERE to view the jacket on Speedcafe.com Classifieds.

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