(WBTV) - John Andretti, a longtime NASCAR and IndyCar driver, has passed away at age 56 after a long battle with colon cancer.
The Andretti Autosport team confirmed the news of Andretti’s passing Thursday on social media.
“Through Race4Riley, John spent decades dedicating his time and fundraising attention to Riley Hospital for Children. When first diagnosed with colon cancer in 2017, John vowed to fight back and use his voice to help spread the word of prevention and early detection. He fought hard and stole back days the disease vowed to take away. He helped countless others undergo proper screening, and in doing so, saved lives,” the Facebook post read.
He won races in Indy cars, stock cars, sports cars and nearly won a national drag race, according to IndyCar.
Andretti was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, raised in Indianapolis and raised his family in the Charlotte area. He is the son of Aldo Andretti and nephew of Mario Andretti. His brother, Adam, and son, Jarrett, also raced.
He was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2017 and spent years encouraging people to have regular colonoscopies.
“We will forever carry with us John’s genuine spirit of helping others first and himself second. Our prayers today are with Nancy, Jarett, Olivia and Amelia, with our entire family, and with fans worldwide,” the Andretti Autosport Facebook post read.
Andretti won a CART race in Australia in 1991 driving for Jim Hall’s VDS Racing team. Two years later, he beat reigning NHRA Top Fuel champion Joe Amato en route to the semifinals of the Southern Nationals.
Andretti had 393 starts in NASCAR’s top division from 1993-2010, winning twice with NASCAR Hall of Famers as his team owners.
In July 1997, he won the Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway for Cale Yarborough Motorsports, then won again two years later in car owner Richard Petty’s No. 43 at Martinsville Speedway.
Clay Campbell, president of Martinsville Speedway, provided a statement Thursday afternoon.
“On behalf of everyone at Martinsville Speedway I want to share my deepest condolences to Nancy, Jarett, Olivia, Amelia and the entire Andretti family. John was a winner in everything he set out to do and always did it with class and dignity. One of my fondest memories with him was watching him celebrate his victory at Martinsville Speedway in 1999. Although John’s courageous battle with cancer might be over, his memory and legacy will be remembered for years to come by everyone who was fortunate to know him,” Campbell said.