One of the biggest names to be associated with racing will be in Puyallup this weekend.
Mario Andretti will greet fans Friday during the grand opening of the Firestone Complete Auto Care store at 10:30 a.m. Fans will get an opportunity to meet the racing legend in person.
Andretti is the only person to be named U.S. driver of the year in three different decades (1967, 1978, 1984). He said he thoroughly enjoys his visits to western Washington.
“I have been to that neck of the woods many times,” Andretti said. “I love the Northwest and am looking forward to it. I always have a good time there. There are motorcar race fans in every corner of the country. It’s a good opportunity for me to give back.”
Andretti, who retired from IndyCar racing after the 1994 season, still is involved with the sport.
“One day it feels like yesterday, and some other days it feels like a lifetime ago,” Andretti said. “I stay very close to the sport for good reasons. My son Michael and grandson Marco are drivers and, from a racing standpoint, that keeps me current. It will never leave me, and it always will be a big part of my life.”
Andretti said it’s special to see his son, grandson and his nephew John follow in his footsteps.
“It’s a matter of pride,” he said. “It is almost like seeing your own offspring continuing in the family business.
“We’ve had second and third generations all doing the same thing,” he added. “Pursuing this has been their choice. I have always been as clear as possible with them about it and said to do it for themselves and not because I want them do it. The important part is they are experiencing success in their careers and are reaping the rewards in the sport.”
Andretti said he has many great memories from throughout his racing career, but he’s most thankful for his health.
“I was very fortunate to have a very long career,” he said. “Safety was much more precarious back then than it is today. I dodged a lot of bullets.
“There are so many beautiful memories from my career,” Andretti added. “I have been blessed.”
Sports Editor Shaun Scott can be reached at 253-552-7002 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_shaun.