In part three, we take a good, hard look at Michael Andretti’s decisions at Andretti Autosport.
Michael Andretti made our list too, though for different reasons than either Coyne or Foyt. Andretti’s foremost weakness is his insistence upon pursuing tangential business ventures – failed ventures. Some months ago he was forced to dissolve his race promotion group, which landed Michael in a messy legal imbroglio when his own company sued him. His latest get rich quick scheme? Auctioning off Ryan Hunter-Reay’s Indy 500 winning car, with caveats of course. Mario’s son needs to stick to what he knows – racing – and leave the shady money making ventures to others.
Photo from foxsports.com
His purported promotional prowess involved the ill-fated “race” at NOLA where yet another legal battle ensued following the (thankfully) one and done event. Michael himself called it “a nightmare.” Speaking of horror, Andretti’s company also badly mishandled the world’s oldest race track the Milwaukee Mile, now conspicuously absent from the 2016 schedule. Thank you for that, Michael. Another Andretti pipe dream is a green racing series – talk about an oxymoron! – called Formula E or some such thing. Clearly the distracted reality television celebrity should focus more on his IndyCar team and less on derivative business ventures. They not only lead nowhere, but also detract from his performance as an IndyCar team owner.
It’s not just the risky corporate dealings that need to stop, either. Andretti’s other glaring failure is employing his son Marco as a driver. While AA’s had recent success – thanks almost exclusively to Ryan Hunter-Reay – including three wins last season, Marco only managed ninth in the standings and a couple of unremarkable podium finishes. He hasn’t won a race in five years.
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The team enjoys top notch equipment, a solid crew and a good sized budget. But IndyCar is among other things a business and Michael should have learned that lesson (again) the hard way with his defunct promotion company. Crucially, an owner’s primary responsibility is to hire the best driver available. In this case, it isn’t his son.
Photo from usatoday.com
With only two wins in a decade of driving, the team needs to move on from the twenty eight year old Andretti for the benefit of all involved. He’s had his shots, many times over now. Marco may even do better with another team – he couldn’t do much worse – but the Autosport will certainly be better without him. It’s high time Michael woke up to this real world racing reality.
Photo from ap.org
Already facing major leadership hurdles, IndyCar needs shoddily run teams like Volkswagen needs another cheating scandal. That’s whether they’re being run by an unquestioned legend of the sport (and his son), an average, ordinary, super wealthy Midwestern businessman or a legacy owner burdened by a legacy driver. These IndyCar owners need to seriously step it up. The series deserves better, as do the fans – and the 100th Indy 500.