John Andretti '85
Professional race car driver and businessman
In the Driver's Seat
"Moravian is a small college, so it’s very intimate and you can create relationships with professors who have so much to offer."
"I spent three years at Moravian and my senior year was spent at St. Luke's Hospital Program in medical technology. During that last year, we took academic classes as well as worked in the lab. The hands-on experience that year was great in preparing us for our future jobs. I enjoyed the small class size at Moravian and the individual attention we received from the faculty."
Like a lot of college students, John Andretti ’85 worked to pay for his college education, but he didn’t have a typical part-time job. He traveled back and forth each weekend to Indianapolis, Ind., where he was beginning his own chapter in the family motorsports legacy.
Andretti boasts one of the most versatile résumés in motorsports. Racing go-karts since he was nine years old, he has competed in and won races in USAC, IMSA, NASCAR, IndyCar, NHRA, and SCCA. He is one of only two drivers to win in two different major racing series and also win two or more major NASCAR Nextel Cup events, and was the first driver to race both the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 the same day.
That versatility extends beyond motorsports. It was important to him to have something to fall back on if his racing career ever fell apart. With an affinity for business, Andretti recognized how having that background could help his racing career. Being a good businessman is a must for drivers, who have to negotiate contracts, fulfill sponsor obligation, and work with marketing and public relations professionals. Racing truly is a sport/business.
“People associate racing with an addiction—it’s the thrill of the competition more than the speed or anything else for me. But racing is a very fickle sport,” he explains. “I’m in a very small minority of drivers who have a post-high school education, and I’m really proud of that. Racing is not a guarantee.”
Juggling his coursework with his burgeoning racing career wasn’t easy, but thanks to close relationships with his professors, Andretti made it work. With a 17-race schedule in May of his senior year that he couldn’t miss, he worked with his professors to graduate early. And when a manufacturer race team offered Andretti a contract, he turned to one of those professors, James Ravelle, professor of sociology, law and public management, for guidance.
“Moravian is a small college, so it’s very intimate and you can create relationships with professors who have so much to offer. Mr. Ravelle helped me negotiate my very first contract,” he says. “I think he was excited to do it, and he never asked anything for it. I take a great amount of pride in being a Moravian graduate.”