John Andretti. [Rich Zimmerman Photo]

John Andretti. [Rich Zimmerman Photo]

by Jack Webster & Eddie LePine

John Andretti. [Rich Zimmerman Photo]

John Andretti. [Rich Zimmerman Photo]

If the racing world has a royal family, it is the Andrettis. We have followed their racing exploits for literally generations – going all the way from humble beginnings with Mario and Aldo, to the more modern racing achievements of Michael, John, Marco, Jeff, Adam and Jarett.

All those races, all those close calls, all those dangerous times in racing and they survived and became our heroes. Larger than life, legendary, blessed. Formula One, Sebring, Le Mans, Indy, NASCAR – they did it all and they were winners everywhere they raced. We could always count on them being there. They seemed like family to us.

Too often, fans put their heroes on a pedestal, and separate them from us mere mortals. They are somehow different, other worldly, not affected by the same things as the rest of us.

Of course, that is not the case.

The world recently lost an outstanding man, gone long before his time. In January, John Andretti lost his three-year battle with stage 4 colon cancer. And the racing world lost one of its heroes. And we shared in that loss.

But far beyond the racing world, a family lost a husband, father, son, and grandson. For the Andrettis are flesh and blood, just like the rest of us, and they suffer pain, grieve a great loss, and must go on living – just like the rest of us.

Over the years, we have had the pleasure of meeting or working with members of the Andretti family and have followed their exploits as race fans and members of the motorsport media.

A finer, nicer, more down to earth family you will never meet. They are wonderful people – all of them. John Andretti in particular was not only an accomplished race driver, but a great family man who cared for people – and lived his life helping others.

There is Race for Riley, an annual go-kart race and fundraiser for the Riley Children’s Foundation which raises money for Cancer research. John founded and developed this event and it will live on and continue to grow due to his efforts.

And there is #checkitforandretti, the social media campaign started by John to raise awareness of colon cancer to encourage everyone to get a colonoscopy. Even as he was battling his own disease, John was thinking of others, doing everything he could to prevent others from having to go through what he was going through.

Cancer is insidious. We all know someone who is battling or has lost their life to the disease. People like John Andretti inspire us to keep working to fund research, and to never give up the battle until the war on cancer is won.

John Andretti’s was a life well lived, filled with the love of his family and the respect and support of countless fans from around the world. We are all diminished by his passing.

“Life is measured in achievement, not in years alone.” – Bruce McLaren

John Andretti achieved a lot, and we will not forget him.

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