Andy Granatelli dreamed of conquering the Indianapolis 500. However, for the scrappy kid growing up in the slums of Chicago, this dream would have to wait. Granatelli’s mother died when he was 12, after-which he dropped out of school to help his father feed the family. His quest for the Indy 500 would finally begin in 1943 at age 20, when he and his brother pooled their money to purchase a gas station on the north side of Chicago which they named “Andy’s Super Service.” Granatelli knew he needed a gimmick to set himself apart from other stations, leading him to create the “pit stop” service, which utilized a team of mechanics to work on the one car all at once. Customers appreciated the experience, often waiting in line for this unique treatment, and the station was soon prosperous.
Granatelli formed his own Corporation, Grancor Automotive Specialists, in 1945, and began pioneering the mass merchandising of automotive performance products. In 1958, he purchased Paxton Products, a failing engineering firm that made superchargers. Granatelli made the company profitable in seven months and sold it to Studebaker Corporation. Recognizing Granatelli’s ability, Studebaker asked Granatelli to work his magic on another under-performing division called Chemical Compounds Corporation. The company had only one product; STP Oil Treatment. Granatelli began to turn the company around by making the STP logo become one of the best recognized in motorsports by placing it in virtually every venue of speed.
Granatelli’s business successes enabled him to finally start his racing career in 1946, when he and his two brothers entered their first Indy 500 race. Andy attempted to qualify for the race as a driver in 1948 and nearly succeeded, but a horrendous crash during qualifying ended his driving career. Granatelli would finally win his first Indy 500 as a team owner and constructor in 1969 with Mario Andretti at the wheel. Four years later, in 1973, Andy won his second and last Indy 500. Through his business acumen, determination, and engineering prowess, Andy Granatelli was able to achieve his childhood dream of conquering one of the world’s most famous races and become “Mr. 500”.