Former CEO & President (Retired)
Granatelli has a long and accomplished career in business, most notably as
President and CEO of STP Corporation, and holds a distinguished and
broad-ranging record of achievement in virtually every aspect of motor
sports – as an award winning auto racing driver, race car owner,
promoter, marketer, creative automotive designer, and inventive automotive
engineer. As one of the
captains of the automotive industry and precedent-setting innovator in the
motorsports establishment, Andy has justifiably earned numerous
prestigious honors and awards, including Knighthood by the Italian
Government and induction into over ten separate Halls of Fame.
life story, much of which is detailed in his autobiography, They
Call Me Mister 500, is a true “Horatio Alger” phenomenon.
the slums of Chicago to a widower father during the Great Depression, Andy
began his career in 1943 at the age of 20, when he and his brothers pooled
their meager resources to purchase a Texaco gas station on the north shore
of Chicago. Here at
“Andy’s Super Service,” Andy initiated the concept of a “pit
stop” gasoline service station and repair, using four to five mechanics
working on a car at one time – a unique service concept which drew
customers in lines often a block long, waiting for the true “super
At the same
time – aspiring to raise public awareness and improve the quality of
motor sports – Andy formed and became President of the Hurricane Hot Rod
Racing Association. In that
capacity, in 1947 using his penchant for showmanship, promotion, and
advertising insights, Andy single-handedly created a series of hot rod and
stock car racing events. Held
at Chicago’s Soldier Field, these events packed in an all-time record
for a single event of 89,560 fans, the biggest crowd to this date,
exceeding by at least tenfold the attendance at any stock car auto racing
event for a quarter mile track. He advertised and promoted his first drag race at Half Day
Speedway as “the first nationally advertised drag race,” and
successfully drew a historical crowd of over 26,000 race fans for the
first event, a remarkable feat compared to the meager attendance of
approximately 1,500 persons at his only competition, a Santa Ana,
California drag strip.
Andy and his brother Joe formed Grancor Automotive Specialists in
Chicago’s north side. This
is where he first introduced the concept of mass merchandising of
performance products, becoming the leading national manufacturing,
distribution, and sales organization for automotive power and speed
equipment. An inimitable
marketing genius and entrepreneur, Andy successfully demonstrated that
basic need and public interest can be combined to provide high quality,
consistent products and service on a grand scale.
Andy began wholesaling to jobbers and warehouse distributors,
proving to his critics that traditional auto parts outlets would purchase
on a large scale. By 1957,
his company’s annual sales were greater than all the competition
combined. By introducing and opening the normal retail and wholesale
automotive distribution outlets to sell his power and speed equipment, it
is said that the SEMA (Specialty Equipment Marketing Association) Show may
never have existed if not for Andy’s foresight as the first individual
to develop a booth at the regular wholesale automotive parts warehouse
shows. For his pioneering
efforts in the development of the power and speed business as a
multi-billion dollar industry, Andy was inducted into the SEMA Hall of
Fame. During his years as
President and CEO of Grancor Automotive Specialists, Andy was also
actively racing as Vice Chairman of NASCAR, President of California
Muffler Sales, Hurricane Hot Rod Racing Association, Half Day Speedway,
and Chicago Auto Racing.
Andy and his brother Joe designed and built the only successful rocket car
in history which Andy drove at state fairground races.
A sensation if ever there was one.
Andy and his brother Joe bought Paxton Products, a floundering engineering
firm that manufactured superchargers.
Within the first seven months under Andy’s leadership and
guidance, Paxton Products became highly successful.
Andy’s prompt success in the redevelopment of this company
brought him instant industry recognition and the invitation to become
engaged as a performance engineer consultant to several automobile
the sale in 1961 of Paxton Products to Studebaker Corporation and while
still CEO of Paxton Products, Andy took on the responsibilities of Vice
President, Chief of Performance Engineering, Chief Driver, and Chief
Engineer. At Studebaker, Andy
personally directed engine and chassis development, setting more than 400
world land speed and endurance records, driving and setting many of the
fastest records himself. Andy
developed the first prototype Chrysler 300, Cadillac Eldorado, Studebaker
Avanti, and R Series engines, owned and ran the immortal NOVI race cars
(for which he is laureate in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America), and
designed, ran, and campaigned the world famous controversial STP Turbine
Car, which is, without dispute, the more creative, innovative,
spectacular, forward-thinking racecar in history.
His associations with Studebaker in 1963 led him to become
President and CEO of a company subsidiary called Chemical Compounds, whose
only product was STP oil treatment. His first official act was to change the name of the
subsidiary company to STP and he was soon to make STP a virtual household
word. This is where Andy was
to make his most significant and lasting contribution to the business and
and CEO of STP, Andy, in fewer than seven years, raised the company from a
level of virtual obscurity to a position of dominance in the world market
with exponentially skyrocketing sales controlling 85% of market share. Using his inimitable business acumen, advertising insight,
intuitive promotional principal of “grand scale,” spectacular, mass
merchandising to sports activities in general and to motorsports in
particular, Andy took the unprecedented, controversial action in the 1960s
to assign a disproportionately large percentage of his advertising budge
to include STP promotional items such as sample products, decals, banners,
and assorted memorabilia, all of which he distributed to the public by the
hundreds of thousands at no charge. (His
competitors thought he lost his mind.)
Such global vision and broad-based identity expansion was
manifested by permeation and saturation of STP decals and paraphernalia
into all aspects of society, involving all age ranges, educational levels,
and financial strata, imposing the STP logo in absolutely every aspect of
life. STP decals literally
become a part of the world pop culture. STP decals appeared on bedroom doors, walls, notebooks, lunch
boxes, bicycles, scooters, tanks in Vietnam, pedicabs in Singapore,
tractors, refrigerators and much more.
At one time, over 30 million cars were estimated to be bearing STP
decals. A measure of the
advertising genius of STP was confirmed by the New York Times famed
cartoon depicting Neil Armstrong landing on the moon where the first thing
he saw was an STP decal.
Andy applied money from his STP advertising budget to promote auto races
free, giving radio, television, and free printed advertisement to auto
race promoters in order to build up their crowds.
This included the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which in those days,
spent absolutely no money on advertising.
Moreover, Andy pioneered auto racing on television, initiated the
concept of major corporate sponsorship in auto racing, having entries in
almost every major racing event on four continents (expanding STP to 93
countries). He conceived and produced award-winning 24-minute movies
depicting segments of the Indy 500 and Daytona 500 races from 1963 to 1973
(still regular features on sports station to this day) and designed,
created, and fabricated the famous multiple logo’s STP jackets, suits
and pajamas which distinguished his racing teams across the globe.
His racing team won the Indy 500 in 1969 and again in 1973, while
he continued to make record wins with himself as driver on the Bonneville
Salt Flats and El Mirage Dry Lakes in Daytona, and NASCAR, where Richard
Petty drove Andy’s own car.
CEO of STP, was the true quintessential ambassador to the media,
penetrating all media – radio, television, outdoor billboards, banners,
mailings, and print – using himself, the CEO, as spokesperson, and
placing himself distinctively on a par with the fan; the common man.
Appearances in high-profile TV shows and some movies soon gave Andy
an image synonymous with auto racing and STP.
He achieved, in a national poll, a personal recognition factor of
87% by simply showing his picture, superceded only by a few movie super
stars and recent Presidents and Vice Presidents of the United States.
individual has done more than Andy has to popularize a product and in
doing so to promote an entire product-associated industry; in this case,
to enrich the entire motor-racing establishment.
Andy has exemplified the ideals, captured the essence, and
experienced the rewards of our free enterprise system.
He appropriately is credited with bringing unparalleled exposure,
innovation, public interest, spectacle, and media coverage to motor
sports. Largely through his
efforts, auto racing has become the biggest spectator sport in the world.
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