Mario Andretti's Grand Prix International

by Robert Weber
(Pasadena, MD)

The Driver's License I got at Mario Andretti's

The Driver's License I got at Mario Andretti's

The Driver's License I got at Mario Andretti's
Mario Andretti in Grand Prix car

Does anyone remember Mario Andretti's Grand Prix International miniature race car course?


I was there on March 23, 1979.

You drove mini grand prix cars what a fun place.

It was near Orlando if I remember correctly...does anyone remember this place? I cannot find any references to it on the net (so far).

Thanks,

Bob Weber
Pasadena, MD
raul700@yahoo.com

Note from Florida Backroads Travel:

Bob, I hope somebody remembers this attraction and can tell us more about it. I do know that Mario Andretti is probably still considered the greatest race car driver who ever lived. He won Grand Prix races, the Indy 500, and the Daytona 500. They said if it had wheels he could race it and win.

Comments for Mario Andretti's Grand Prix International

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Nov 29, 2016
OOPS!
by: G. Flemingl

I'd like to apologize to your readers. First- the unthinkable! I called Dee Ann Andretti "Joanne", and I owe her an apology as well. What a wonderful lady, and how kind she was to me. I haven't seen her in years, and in my comments, my aging brain failed!

Secondly, I ended up with TWO articles about the same topic, having been "notified" by my web service that the first one had failed to be delivered to its destination, and, since I had no copy from my hurriedly written 1st attempt, I just plowed through the second one, and somehow BOTH made it through! Anyway...sorry, Dee Ann! Sorry, readers! Gerald Glen Fleming.

FLORIDA BACKROADS TRAVEL SAYS

Gerald: Not to worry. We will leave both articles up because nobody has complained and the two of them together present additional information. I changed the name from Joanne to Dee Ann on your entries.

Aug 01, 2016
MAGPI Champion 1979
by: Gerald Glen Fleming

Mario & Ed D'Angelo (MAGPI, INC) chose me to demo the MAGPI car at the US Grand Prix in Oct 1978 (Mario's crowning). Sadly, Ronnie had died at Imola 2 weeks earlier & JP Jarier had taken his seat in the JPS Lotus. I was a young driver for FDX Racing and had helped tweak the MAGPI cars in Casselberry for RAM, who built them. I had run hot laps Mario & I held the track record there til it closed. Mario & I friended on the opening day of the track. It was too wet for the public (the tires were slicks) so D'Angelo asked me to take laps with Andretti just to keep the small crowd there. & we spun around all over the place & everybody laughed a lot, including Mario. His Penthouse interview was held in my paddock trailer at the Glen. His wife, Dee Ann, daughter Michelle & boss Colin Chapman were excellent to me! A young Gilles Villeneuve became my friend there. Best of all, I lapped the Glen in the MAGPI car & the crowd went nuts & I had a notorious fling with a young Linda Vaughn. It was heady! I was the 1979 MAGPI champion.

Gerald Glen Fleming on Face-book. Come over & we'll chat about MAGPI & Mario!

Aug 01, 2016
I did R&D for MAGPI
by: Gerald Glen Fleming

Hi, folks! Mario, Bobby Petralia and Ed D'Angelo selected me to demo the MAGPI car at the US Grand Prix East at the Glen in 1978. I held the track record @ Casselberry til it closed & tested there to tweak the cars for Eldon Rasmussen, who built 'em. I demo'd the car opening day in Fla to keep the crowd there. It was too wet for the public, so I slid around on slicks!

Mario's Penthouse interview was conducted in my paddock trailer at the Glen. Jarier had been brought in for JPS due to Ronnie's death @ Imola 2 weeks earlier. Mario, his wife (Dee Ann) and Colin Chapman treated me royally as did a young Gilles Villeneuve, whom I met there. Mario was crowned there! I lapped the Glen in Mario's MAGPI car & the crowd was going nuts!

What a memory! My Facebook is Gerald Glen Fleming Drop by & chat! Heady days!

Jul 29, 2015
I Worked There!
by: Matt K

It was located in the town of Casselberry, about 10 miles north of Orlando. I worked there in 81 & 82 after Mario severed ties with the owner and it was re-named 'The Grand Prix Arcade and Raceway'.

3/4 scale Indy cars with 650cc Chaperell snowmobile engines, a go cart track and a huge game room.

My second teenage job, the first being the Longwood Skateboard Park on Dog Track Road. I couldn't understand why my friends took jobs in grocery stores.

Oct 13, 2014
Good Memories
by: Greg Robinson

It is so great hearing these old stories. I was at the location in Colton CA for training, loved that track, and then opened and managed the Orlando location for their first year of operation. The Pepsi Challenge we did there was blast Good times.

greg

Sep 27, 2013
I have one of these in wisconsin
by: Bart Adams

I have a car like this. Up until now I had no Idea of its origin. I would like to leaern more about it, if John would be willing to contact me.

Thanks,
Bart Adams
adams-construction@hotmail.com

Apr 15, 2013
John Wiser would love to see pictures
by: Bob Weber

Would love to pics John!

Apr 14, 2013
I bought the cars and all the inventory
by: John Wiser

Hello.

I was also a member who did this often along with little 500 weekly I bought all the race cars and molds and still have cars. I knew many of the people who built the cars in Indy(Eldon Rasmussen) who was an Indy crew chief for Dick Simon after leaving driving and Randy Davis who later went on to Malibu Grand Prix and who is now in Southern California.

It was the best of cars in its day and were race cars in every way. I could take it to Auto Cross and run in the highest fastest class and be faster than a 930 Porsche. The only car who was faster than mine was a turbo Mini Cooper S which was brutal.

I took the 340 cc motor off and put a Rotax 440 twin carb from a Artic Cat and it's much faster. Two stroke is still my favorite and 1000 cc is better. Bring it on.

I have the very car shown in you photo since I got all 25 cars and the little cars for kids). I have the remains. Enough for now and I hope soon to bring the car back out,

John, Winter Park, FL

Sep 16, 2012
fast track
by: Bob Weber

Youre right Tony, those cars were quick and had some torque thats for sure 2 it was a challenge to drive, definently not a toy go-kart!!!! I wish I had pictures, i was attending Southeastern Academy in Kissimmee, FL (it was a travel industry career school) and we went there actually on March 17,1979(a saturday)....the place was packed and we had a blast....some of my classmates took pictures but i never got copies...hope can find some here somewhere on the net but no luck yet but im sure if i search i will find something....Bob

Sep 16, 2012
what road?
by: Bob Weber

you wouldnt happen to remember what road in Casselberry it was on would you Tony? thanks...bob

Sep 16, 2012
thanks Tony
by: Bob Weber

Thanks for the info Tony........i appreciate it!!! Bob

Sep 16, 2012
Mario Andretti Grand Prix International
by: Tony new

I lived just a couple of miles from the track. It was located in Cassleberry, very close to an AMC/Renault car dealership. The track was slightly less than a mile long, and the cars , which represented small Indy or F1 cars, had snowmobile-type engines and centrifugal clutches. They were much larger, and considerably faster, than typical go carts, with lap times of the small track around one minute.

I too still have my "racing license" that I got there in 1979. I believe the track closed in the early 80's.

Tony
Anderson, IN

Apr 05, 2012
Mario Andrettis Grand Prix Intl Location
by: Bob Weber

Thank you Greg. I thought it was in the Orlando area. Now I know i havent gone crazy, someone else rememebers this place also! Thanks

Mar 26, 2012
A Blast From The Past!
by: Greg May

Dear Bob:

If I'm not mistaken Mario Andretti's Grand Prix International was somewhere out on International Drive. In fact, there are several miniature race car tracks out there now. When I was a kid we used to go up to 'Li'l Firecracker 500' which was on 17-92 between Winter Park and Casselberry. In addition to the go-carts, there was a big slide.

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