5 secrets of Mario Andretti

Story highlights

  • Mario Andretti is one of only two Americans to win F1 title
  • Legendary car racer has a massive collection of memorabilia
  • He’s still tearing around the world and racking up a big phone bill


(CNN)Ahead of the United States Grand Prix in Austin Sunday, CNN’s Don Riddell interviewed Formula One great Mario Andretti about his pet hates and likes. This is what he discovered:

1. At 75, he’s still a kid

One of only two Americans to claim the F1 world title, the 75-year-old Mario Andretti admits that he’s a big kid at heart and the bar at his house is proof, with quirky artifacts from his life’s work; a life spent winning motor races all over the world and making his name synonymous with speed.

2. He’s big on memories

On the walls of his bar, you’ll find photographs of him racing and meeting global dignitaries and royalty. You’ll also find a cowbell from a race he won in Switzerland and even a framed speeding ticket — 170mph in a 45mph zone!

    3. He’s frustrated by slow travel

    Andretti still works incredibly hard. He is frequently on the road, but he hates travel and how long it takes. He laments the passing of Concorde and the extra security checks post 9/11. So, you should maybe think twice about approaching him for a selfie if you’re both on a badly delayed flight. But otherwise I’m sure he’d happily oblige.

    4. He’s on the phone a lot

    He can’t live without his phone but doesn’t know what his monthly bill is. He can tell when it’s high though, by the color in the cheeks of his PA! He’s joking of course, I’m pretty sure they can afford it. His only other must-have for a life on the road? His toothbrush.

    5. He’s lucky to be alive

    Andretti has driven in pretty much every racing series there is, during an era in which fatalities were commonplace. The era he raced in F1 became known as “the killer years” and the day he won the title in 1978 was the same day that his teammate, Ronnie Peterson, was killed. He knows that he’s lucky to be alive and takes nothing for granted.