Speaking of commitment, Marco said his top priority remains winning the Indy 500 – “the big one,” as he put it. It’s a life-changing accomplishment that his grandfather Mario reached in 1969 but his father Michael was unable to achieve despite numerous close calls.
Aside from that continuing desire, Marco admitted he’s enjoying his newfound freedom.
“I’m actually loving life,” he said. “I’m kind of in control of my own destiny from a racing point of view. I can still win the big one and kind of be more diverse from there. I’m at my own will, whatever I feel like driving.”
He’s already signed up for good friend Tony Stewart’s Superstar Racing Experience (SRX), a six-race, prime-time series this summer putting greats from multiple racing disciplines – including Stewart, Bill Elliott, Bobby Labonte and Michael Waltrip from NASCAR, Willy T. Ribbs from sports cars, and Tony Kanaan, Paul Tracy and Helio Castroneves from IndyCars – in identical high-horsepower, low-downforce cars at short tracks around the nation.
“I couldn’t say no to (Stewart) on that,” Marco said. “That’s going to be too fun.”
The SRX event at Stewart’s Eldora Speedway in Ohio conflicts with the WeatherTech Championship weekend at Watkins Glen International in late June, but Jarett Andretti told his cousin to “double duty it” since the SRX race is at night and Marco could make the short private flight between the tracks. And Jarett Andretti knows all about double duty, as his father, John, was the first to compete in the Indianapolis 500 and the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 in the same day back in 1994 when Jarett was a year-and-a-half old.
Marco feels added incentive to drive with Jarett, who’s five years his junior and worked his way up through the dirt-track and GT racing ranks. In the span of a year, Jarett’s father – the versatile NASCAR, IndyCar, drag racing and 1989 Rolex 24 At Daytona winner – died after a lengthy battle with colorectal cancer and Jarett’s grandfather Aldo – Mario’s twin brother and a talented racer as well until sustaining serious injuries in the 1960s – passed away in December at age 80.
Something Jarett told Marco recently provided all the motivation the latter needed.
“It meant a lot to me when he said, ‘We’ve got to make these races happen because it’s the closest thing I’m going to get to driving with my dad,’” Marco recalled of what Jarett said. “I was humbled to hear that. It would be my pleasure to co-drive with him.”
The next IMSA Prototype Challenge race, in which Herbert and Jarett Andretti are slated to compete, is March 13 at Sebring. It also falls on Marco Andretti’s 34th birthday.