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Adam Andretti Savors Long-Awaited First Chance To Add to Family Legacy at Indy

This took too much time, he admits, especially considering he’s from a famous racing family defined by exploits at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but another Andretti is finally experiencing his ultimate dream this weekend.

And the night before turning his first practice laps at IMS on Friday morning, Adam Andretti couldn’t sleep.

“I’ve waited a lot longer than anyone else in my family,” said Andretti, the two-time series runner-up in TA2 class of the Trans Am presented by Pirelli series. “Nobody else had to wait 38 years to get here.”

Trans Am’s debut in the fourth annual Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational provides Andretti, the 38-year-old son of Aldo Andretti, the chance to race where he’s always wanted Sunday afternoon. All of the Andrettis texted or phoned with advice and the reminder to “enjoy the moment” — older brother John, uncle Mario, first cousins Michael and Jeff as well as Marco, his first cousin once removed.

“You’d have to really be born under a rock in our family to not know what this place means to our family and really what this place has done for us,” said Adam Andretti, who lives in nearby Brownsburg, Indiana. “Every one of us knows it was the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that made the Andrettis, not the other way around. It’s so special to be a part of that. It truly is. You can’t really put it into words. I don’t think anyone in our family could put into words what their first laps were like around this place because it’s so special.

“We’re the first session out at 8 (Friday) morning. That’s to the chagrin of a lot of drivers. For me, I couldn’t get to sleep Thursday night. I was up way early Friday morning because I couldn’t get here soon enough. This moment couldn’t have happened soon enough for me.”

Marco offered specific input on negotiating the 14-turn, 2.439-mile IMS road course. Adam also sought out other Verizon IndyCar Series drivers.

But all of that inside knowledge got ignored on the initial lap in his No. 44 Engineer Components Company Motorsports Dodge Challenger.

“You take that first trip down the front straightaway, for me personally, I blew the braking zone into Turn 1 because I was taking it all in,” Adam said, chuckling. “Then after that, you have to realize: ‘It’s down to business. I’ve got to get my head wrapped around this and do it right.’”

He didn’t need to use the bail out area beyond Turn 1, but conceded the brakes were seriously tested.

“I made it, but there was a big cloud of smoke going in there,” Adam said.

He ranked eighth out of 26 cars in that first practice, then sixth in Saturday morning’s second practice. In 39 career series starts, Andretti has five wins and 20 top-three finishes.

“I need laps more than I need to work on the race car, so I just stayed out there and ran laps,” he said of Friday’s session. “That proved to be the way to go. You just need laps around this place.

“It’s flat, but it’s still tricky. Everything about Indianapolis just seems to be tricky, right? It’s a simple four corners around the oval? But you talk to any driver who has run here, it’s the most difficult four corners you will ever drive. This road course is no different. It looks so simple. There’s 14 turns, but it’s flat, no undulations, nothing blind, nothing crazy. But it’s Indianapolis, so it’s tricky. It’s got its tricky spots. It’s fun to figure out. I’ve had a lot more fun than I anticipated on the road course.”

His father, Aldo, and other family members will attend the race Sunday. But Adam realizes some schedules are compromised. John is on the road in Pennsylvania to support his 24-year-old son, Jarett, who is racing USAC sprint cars. Michael and Marco have a weekend off, their first since early May, so Adam isn’t expecting to see them.

What’s evident is Adam intends to savor every minute of the experience. He had always envisioned going the other direction at IMS, zooming into Turn 1 on the oval for the Indy 500, but being here this weekend is meaningful enough.

“I tell people all the time, ‘Our family has done great things in motorsport, amazing accomplishments that the fact that you even ask how I’m related shows that,’” he said.

One month after Michael celebrated his fifth career Indy 500 victory as a team owner with Takuma Sato, a familiar question is posed to another Andretti: What would it mean to win at Indy?

“Everything,” Adam said. “I think any of them would tell you if there was a tricycle race out here, we’d train for it.”

Visit IMS.com to order tickets or learn more about the Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational. Ticket prices are $30 Saturday and $20 Sunday. Kids 15 and under are free when accompanied by an adult.

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