The racing suit worn by Mario Andretti during his only Indy 500 win in 1969 is up for bid on eBay.
That’s according to former southern California racer Mike Sweeney who says Andretti gave him the suit when he was a struggling 17-year-old sprint car driver.
Sweeney, who eventually spent 20 years running sprint cars and also raced also with USAC, World of Outlaws and numerous other organizations, says his father worked as a pit crew member and fabricator on the famous Parnelli Jones Viceroy “Dream Team” which consisted of Mario Andretti, Al Unser and Joe Leonard.
The the suit was one of two Andretti sent to his family.
“My father approached Mario about giving me a couple of his old uniforms,” Sweeney recalls in the eBay listing, which is scheduled to end the night of this year’s Indy 500. “Two weeks later, UPS dropped them off on our front porch. I actually drove in these two uniforms for about six months.”
With the memorabilia market gaining mainstream attention and significant value, curiosity eventually got the better of Sweeney and he began researching which races in which Andretti raced. Photos and this YouTube video do show Andretti wearing the suit after his victory at Indianapolis. The placement of sponsor patches was often unique to each suit and the embroidering of patches and the driver’s name was done manually, making each unique.
In 2008, Sweeney and his family contacted Andretti about his long ago gift. The legendary driver provided two letters of authenticity, and while not confirming the suit was worn in the Indy race, admitted it could have been.
“We have done extensive research on this uniform and we are 99.9% sure that this is his winning uniform from the Indy 500 in 1969, said Sweeney, whose brother-in-law is legendary sprint car champion Jack “Wild Child” Haudenschild.
A museum has offered him $25,000.
The suit had received 17 bids as of late Wednesday night and was sitting at $905, far short of what the suit is likely worth and the undisclosed reserve Sweeney has placed on his piece of racing history (click here to track bidding). This is the first time Sweeney has placed the suit up for sale in the open market.