In part two of Son of a Champion, I’m looking to famous names whose racing heritage goes back a little further into the history books and take a look at the current young drivers aiming to bring a famous name back to Formula One.
Some people have their vocation in life mapped out for them even before they’re born. If you are the first born of a monarch, you are destined to be a King/Queen and you will spend your life preparing for that. The same can be said if you’re born with the surname Andretti. This family is a racing dynasty, a family that has been racing on track since 1959 when Marco’s grandad and great uncle raced a Hudson Hornet stock car around the dirt tracks around Nazareth, Pennsylvania. His grandfather is of course Mario Andretti, 1969 Indy 500 winner, 1978 Formula 1 World Champion and 1984 CART champion. It is Mario’s and his twin brother, Aldo’s passion for racing that keeps filtering down the blood line. No fewer than Seven Andrettis have forged a career out of motorsports to date including Marco’s father, Michael.
Like his dad, Michael won the CART title in 1991 driving for the Newman/Hass team. Also like his dad, he made the move to race in F1 but unlike Mario, Michael suffered a torrid time driving for McLaren in 1993. In his first three races he only completed 3 laps, he went on to score points on three occasions. His dream of emulating his father as world champion was over after just 13 races when he was dropped scoring only seven points.
Marco, 24, has been racing in single seaters since he was still at school. He won the Barber Formula Dodge southern and national titles in 2004 before making six appearances in the Indy Lights feeder series the following year winning 3 times and picking up a further 2 podiums to finish 10th, not bad considering he missed 8 rounds!
2006 saw him step up to the big time, joining his dad on track for Andretti Green Racing. He became the youngest winner of a IRL (formally CART) race when he won at the Infineon raceway, Marco would have to wait a full 79 races for his next trip to victory lane, finally taking the spoils at Iowa this year. To date, Marcos highest championship finish is 7th.
Could we see the Andretti name gracing the F1 grid again anytime soon? He has tested for Honda back in 2006 but he has unfinished family business to attend to over the pond first. Marco wants to win the Indy 500 before moving to F1. That could be some time given the ’Andretti curse’ in the 500. Since Mario’s win back in 1969, no member of the Andretti family has won the race in a staggering 63 attempts.
The Hill racing Family may not be as large as the Andretti clan but their racing CV can more than hold its own against their American counterparts.
Josh’s grandfather, Graham, started his motorsports career in the pit lane as a mechanic for Team Lotus in the junior categories, talking his way into the cockpit whenever he got the chance. When the team made the step up to F1, Graham had impressed team boss Colin Chapman enough to give him a race seat for the teams first season in F1. Graham went on to win two world titles in 1962 and 1968, the Indy 500 in 1966 and Le Mans in 1972. Read more about Graham Here
After Graham’s untimely death in 1975, the family Racing Baton was passed to his then, 15 year old son Damon. It would take Damon 8 years before he would seriously take up motor racing, starting his professional career at 23. Damon’s big break came in 1993 driving for Williams as team mate to Alain Prost. Damon eventually won the title in 1996 to become the first son of a champion to win the world drivers title.
Josh, 20, like his dad hasn’t come from a karting background, instead choosing the Ginetta Junior series to make his racing bow at the age of 17. Josh obviously has a gift behind the wheel, going toe to toe with drivers with far more experience the him. Formula Ford was going to be Josh’s first taste of single seat racing in the 2010 season, again adapting quickly to his new machinery to finish the season with a string of good points finishes. This year Josh is competing in the Formula Renault UK championship for the series most successful team, Manor Competition. Josh has made an impressive start to the season, finishing in the points in every race apart from one DNF. Currently sitting seventh in the championship with half the season still to go, a top three finish isn’t out of the question. As for Formula 1, Josh makes his ambitions loud and clear on his website. “My aim is to become the first, third generation F1 world champion”.