Brian Golden

Brian Golden/Valley Press

LONG BEACH — Speed has always come easily to Michael Andretti.

Nearly 40 years later, he still holds the course record for the 2.6-mile “Fastest Road in the West” at Willow Springs International Raceway, in a Formula 5000 car.

He pulled a really fast one on Sunday, though.

He went fast enough to turn landlocked Nazareth, Pennsylvania, into beachfront property.

The owner of Andretti Autosport picked up his 200th victory with Alexander Rossi’s dominating drive in the 45th Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

“It’s so special that it comes here at Long Beach,” Andretti said. “This has been a very special place for me and my family.

“I won my first race as a driver here. And I won my last race as a driver here.”

That last win at Long Beach in April 2002 was his 42nd, the most of any driver in CART history.

A year later, Andretti purchased Team KOOL Green from Kim Green and Kevin Savoree.

Some 38 drivers have contributed to the 200 Andretti Autosport victories.

Andretti Autosport has competed in the IndyCar Series, Indy Lights, FIA Formula E, U.S. Rallycross, GT4 America and Australian Supercars.

The team has given young talents like Ryan Hunter-Reay, Rossi, Colton Herta, Patricio O’Ward, Carlos Munoz, Dan Wheldon, Danica Patrick, Mike Conway and James Hinchcliffe their openings to IndyCar stardom.

Two years ago, Andretti talked McLaren Principal into an Andretti Autosport-prepared car.

Now McLaren is coming back to the 500 for the second time in three years.

In 2020 McLaren, which revolutionized IndyCars with rear-wing technology in 1971, will compete full-time again in the NTT Data IndyCar Series.

The month of May will be a tribute to the 50th anniversary of Mario Andretti’s 1969 Indianapolis 500 victory.

Papa Andretti won the first two IndyCar races at Long Beach in 1984-85, after planting the flag for the Long Beach Grand Prix with a Formula One victory in 1977.

Mario is still the only American to win a Formula One race in the United States.

He’s also the only man to win the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500 and the Formula One World Championship.

“We’ve had a lot of great young drivers work for us,” Michael Andretti said. “It’s so rewarding to bring along a young driver like Alexander in 2016.”

Rossi became the first American rookie to win the 500 in 90 years. It was his first IndyCar win.

The tide, and the victories, keep rolling in.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.