Preview: Mario Andretti on making a race car purr

In an interview to be broadcast on “Sunday Morning,” the motor sports legend compares sitting behind the wheel of a race car to conquering a wild animal.

CBS News

Auto racing legend Mario Andretti stepped away from driving full time in 1994, but even now at 77, he’s able to push a racecar to 180 mph, as he shows Mo Rocca during a heart-pumping interview for CBS’ “Sunday Morning.”  

“I just love my driving,” Andretti says after giving Rocca a high-speed thrill ride around the Sonoma Raceway. “I just can’t get enough. I’m an adrenaline junkie, and without adrenaline I’d die.”

Andretti is far from giving up on his adrenaline fix. He is still involved in the sport that made him an international superstar, but more as an advisor than a driver. His grandson, Marco Andretti, drives in the IndyCar series on a team run by Mario’s son, Michael.

And Mario says he still gets excited on race day.

“To me, in all the years I’ve driven, you know, the hundreds of races I’ve driven, it’s never blasé,” he said. “Always said when I was younger, ‘Someday when I become more mature I’m going to lose those butterflies.’ And I never did. From the first race to the last race, I had those same butterflies, and you know why? Because it meant something to me.”


Mario Andretti with correspondent Mo Rocca.

CBS News

Andretti is considered one of the best drivers to have ever buckled into a race car because he was able to win in a variety of car styles, tracks and formats across the United States and around the world.

In the interview (to be broadcast March 19 at 9:00 a.m. ET on the CBS Television Network), Andretti talks about breaking into auto racing, how he was able to succeed, and the inherent risks of a sport that took the lives of some friends and severely injured others along the way.

Rocca also talks to Andretti’s wife of 56 years, Dee Ann, who opens up about life with a race car driver.

In explaining the appeal of the sport, Andretti compares racing to animal training: “If you can make a tiger or something that can destroy you purr, you’re a damned good animal trainer,” he told Rocca. “And this is the same thing. You gotta make that car that can destroy you purr, make it do the things you want it to do.”

The Emmy Award-winning “CBS Sunday Morning,” hosted by Jane Pauley, is broadcast on CBS Sundays beginning at 9:00 a.m. ET. Executive producer is Rand Morrison.

Follow the program on Twitter (@CBSSunday), Facebook, Instagram (#CBSSundayMorning) and at “Sunday Morning” also streams on CBSN beginning at 9:30 a.m. ET, and is available on, CBS All Access, and On Demand. You can also listen to “Sunday Morning” audio podcasts at

For more info: