BRANDON, S.D. (KELO) — He’s considered the greatest race car driver of all time; Mario Andretti.
Andretti is one of only three drivers to have won races in Formula One, IndyCar, the World Sportscar Championship, and NASCAR.
Andretti made a pit stop in Brandon, South Dakota Thursday for a grand opening.
It’s not the checkered flag, but rather a yellow ribbon that Mario Andretti is celebrating today at the grand opening of Northwest Tires in Brandon which specializes in Firestone Tires.
“I do so many of these appearances, because I’ve been a part of the Firestone family for so many years,” Andretti said.
As Andretti signed autographs and posed for pictures today he talked about the quality and reliability of Firestone tires, something he’s been speaking about for 40 years.
Andretti says tires and other pieces of racing equipment are much safer today than when he was racing.
“Every time I see AJ Foyt, you know, we lost so many friends and he says ‘man Mario I can’t believe we are still standing,’ so you can tell we’re not taking anything for granted,” Andretti said.
The owner of Northwest Tires, who has been in the tire business a long time, even before he owned a business, is thrilled to have Andretti on site for the grand opening.
“I worked for Firestone for 10 years and of course, Mario was always that name was always out there and then to bring him here I was like how did you handle that that was a surprise,” Northwest Tires owner Al Wald said.
Andretti is considered the Michael Jordan of racing; winning at every level including Indy racing and NASCAR.
When asked what’s his favorite, he says it’s all about open wheel and speed.
“You know we kid around with stock car boys like NASCAR well we are the fighters you’re the bombers,” Andretti said.
Andretti retired from racing in 1994.
But he’ll be watching the upcoming Indy 500 Monday because he owns five cars in the race, including one driven by his grandson Marco Andretti.