Mario Andretti joked about returning to the track with McLaren CEO Zak Brown for the past couple years, but Saturday it became a reality.

Andretti, the most accomplished American driver in Formula One history and one of the iconic names in motorsports, climbed back into a cockpit for a spin in a modern F1 car at age 82.

“My bucket list is pretty much satisfied,” Andretti told RACER after the session. “Anything that we do after this will be icing on the cake.”

Brown, who oversees McLaren’s F1 team and other company operations, arranged for Andretti to drive the 2013 McLaren MP4-28a model at Laguna Seca in Salinas, California. The two previously discussed the session during an on-air interview at the 2022 Miami Grand Prix in May.

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Returning to the site of his final IndyCar race in 1994, Andretti had himself a joy ride Saturday.

However, in typical Andretti fashion, he thought he left some time on the track.

“It’s sweet but obviously I left a lot on the table,” Andretti said. “It’s all about getting the proper gearing and some of the problem for me was the way my helmet was vis-á-vis my steering wheel. I couldn’t see the numbers on my downshift. In some corners I got it right and in others I didn’t.

“In general, though, it is what I expected. It’s a sweet feeling as a driver, so satisfying. The car just does what it should do.”

Retired IndyCar driver Mario Andretti walks out of a trailer at the Road America track in Elkhart Lake, Wis. on June 22, 2016.

Andretti’s F1 career spanned from 1968 to 1982. He won 12 races in 128 starts and claimed the 1978 world championship.

Andretti also had an illustrious IndyCar career, winning four championships. His son, Michael Andretti, is the owner of Andretti Autosport, which competes in IndyCar and various other racing series.

24th January 1978:  Mario Andretti, driving the John Player Special Lotus, takes the flag, held by racing idol Juan Fangio (1911 - 1995), to win the Argentine Grand Prix.

Andretti Autosport has tried to join the F1 grid in recent years but to no avail. According to RACER, the Andrettis made an attempt to purchase the Alfa Romeo F1 team in 2021, but the deal fell through. Andretti Autosport has since applied for an expansion spot on the F1 grid for the 2024 season. Determination from the FIA, the global governing body of motorsport, is pending.

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