Jarett Andretti may have a famous racing last name and racing in his blood, but for now he is simply enjoying the ride.
And for this third-generation driver, grandson of Aldo and son of John Andretti, the ride not only includes pursuing a college education but also racing sprint cars for the company owned by second cousin Michael Andretti.
“It started last year,” Andretti said. “Me and my dad were talking about what we wanted to do in the 2012 season.”
“And he said we should do dirt sprint cars,” Andretti continued. “And at that point, I had never even been in a dirt sprint car or driven too much on dirt.”
“We acquired different cars and we put together our best car to run,” Andretti said. “We didn’t run as good as we hoped to run.”
“So, this year we really knew what we were going to do,” Andretti continued. “We hired our crew chief, bought cars and a motor and Superior Auto came on board as a sponsor.”
“Everything fell in line to do 30 or 40 races this season in Indiana.”
Andretti’s new sponsor, Superior Auto, is also excited about partnering with the young driver as his career blossoms.
“Jarett is the next line of great racers in the Andretti family,” Chad Melchi, President of Superior Auto, said. “He’s proving himself to live in the footsteps of his great family name.”
“All of us at Superior Auto want to be a part of his journey as he continues to grow.”
Andretti actually has a unique racing resume, especially since he did not even start racing until he was 17 years old. Prior to that, he was a devoted soccer player and would have played in college except for being bitten by the racing bug.
“I played soccer for a long time and then my dad bought a go kart,” Andretti said. “He thought it would be fun to spend some time together but he might regret it after all this.”
“We didn’t know what the next step was but decided to go dirt sprint car racing,” Andretti continued. “I also got an opportunity to run Oswego Speedway in a super-modified class and won Rookie of the Year last year.”
“My career is like my father’s in a sense because I drive whatever I get the opportunity to be in,” Andretti said. “That’s why we wanted to do dirt sprint car too.”
“In Indiana you can run three nights a week,” Andretti continued. “So, when I’m not running on pavement, I’ll just get in the dirt sprint car and that will be great experience for me.”
In addition to racing whatever he can get his hands on, the young Andretti is also a sophomore at North Carolina State University, where he is studying business administration and marketing. And of course, his is all in at school where he participates in the honors program.
“It’s alright,” Andretti said about his classroom career. “On Thursday and Friday, I take online classes so I can go racing on the weekends.”
“But it’s tough to get back Sunday night or Monday morning and go to school and keep up with it all,” Andretti admitted. “There’s homework and studying during the week so I can go racing.”
“It balances out,” Andretti said. “You care about school and you want to go racing.”
“It’s a challenge to make it all work but it’s worth it.”
What also motivates the young racer is the support of his family, especially since they have allowed him to find his own way in the sport.
“There was no pressure about racing from my family,” Andretti said. “In fact, my mom has been quoted as saying “I kept him out of it this long.” So, that was her accomplishment.”
“But my family has been nothing but supportive,” Andretti continued. “My father has been supportive and has given me guidance.”
“My mom is supportive as well with me being away at college and then away racing too,” Andretti said. “She takes care of my two younger sisters and they have been supportive as well.”
“So, it’s a family effort, even with my grandfather Aldo, who comes to the track and is over there washing the car,” Andretti continued. “Mario, Michael and Marco are also supportive as well.”
“Michael let me test in October so it’s all a family effort like most things.”
So what does the future hold for the youngest Andretti racer?
“I think it’s tough to answer because it’s where the opportunity falls,” Andretti said. “I’d be happy to run Le Mans and Daytona and run dirt the rest of the year.”
“I’m not picky about where I go,” Andretti continued. “I think the opportunity will be something with fenders, either in sports cars or NASCAR.”
“IndyCar right now doesn’t seem to have many opportunities for young kids and that’s disappointing,” Andretti said. “But that’s the way it is.”
“Really, I just want to win races,” Andretti said. “And I just like to drive race cars.”
“Right now, I’m just enjoying the ride.”