The world knows Mario Andretti as one of the best race car drivers in the world, and a historic winner of several prestigious racing titles, over multiple decades.  My childhood friends and I spoke of him in the neighborhood in Compton, California, where I grew up — where it was common to brag to others that “you drove that car like Mario Andretti!”

JHB and Mario Andretti

But thanks to my friends and partners at Mutual of Omaha Bank, I was fortunate to be able to spend some quality time with Mr. Andretti, in a private discussion, a three-lap run with him around the Indianapolis Speedway, and then a private dinner the night before the Indy500.  Needless to say, it was a time to remember, but what I was really left with is how authentic and ‘normal’ Mario Andretti is as a person. Just good people, and a real class act.’

While there was a good amount of the conversation I would not want to share, the part that would surprise no one — is how very competitive Mario is.  He made it clear that he was the VERY FASTEST on the grid of all the professional drivers there, taking passengers for a ride in the prototype IndyCars!  And he was. Our drive together clocked in at 185MPH+.

Mr. Andretti now has three generations in motorsports, including his son Michael Andretti, and his grandson Marco Andretti, who drives an IndyCar sponsored by Mutual of Omaha Bank.

Andretti’s mother and father came to the United States as immigrants from Italy, with $150 in their pockets, and look at what he turned their dream for their children into. A living legend. A global brand.  A giver.  A good man, who contributes to a world better.

What a man.

You can find more photos from our time with Mr. Andretti here.

John Hope Bryant

Pin It on Pinterest