One of auto racing’s giants, Andy Granatelli passed away yesterday from congestive heart failure at the age of 90.
“Andy, known appropriately as ‘Mr. 500,’ understood better than anybody the spirit and challenge of the Indianapolis 500 and he had remarkable ability to combine innovative technologies with talented race car drivers to make his cars a threat to win at Indianapolis every year,” stated Indianapolis Motor Speedway President J. Douglas Boles. “He leaves a legacy of historic moments that will live on forever in Indy 500 lore.”
Born March 18, 1923 in Dallas, TX, Anthony "Andy" Granatelli began his career with cars as an auto mechanic and “speed shop” entrpeneur, modifying engines into quality racing equipment along with brothers Joe and Vince, eventually becoming a promoter for auto race events such as the “Hurricane Racing Association” during World War II.
According to his autobiography, “The Call Me Mr. 500,” “Hurricane” events combined opportunities for up and coming young racers to demonstrate their skills at “executing and surviving staged roll-over and end-over crashes” and other stunts.
The Granatelli brothers made their Indy 500 debut in 1946, as the Grancor racing team, where they first gained notoriety by “re-introducing the legendary Novi,”failed to win until 1969, when their car, driven by Mario Andretti drove them into Victory Lane for the first time. Gordon Johncock gave them a second and third win in 1973 in 1982 after Granatelli retired his USAC team, and STP became a sponsor of Patrick Racing.
Readers who grew up during the 1960’s may also recall seeing Granatelli on TV as CEO and spokesman for STP oil.
Andy Granatelli his survived by his wife Dolly and sons Vince and Anthony.