By Robert W. Dalton
If she wanted, Grayson Carter ’22 could add a line to her resume that would make her the envy of current and former IndyCar drivers everywhere: “Wrecked Mario Andretti.”
Thanks to her internship with the CheckIt4Andretti Foundation, Carter got to travel with the Andretti family to Buford, Georgia, for the opening of an Andretti Indoor Karting and Games entertainment center. The outing included family patriarch Mario, whose storied racing career includes four IndyCar championships.
As part of the festivities, the group took to the track for a friendly go-cart competition. At one point Carter, who earned the nickname “Lapped Traffic” because of her driving abilities, saw the 81-year-old Andretti closing in on her. As he made his move to go around her, Carter swerved and sent the legendary driver careening into the wall.
“I was determined that no one was going to pass me, so I put the man into the wall,” says Carter, a religion major from Charlotte, North Carolina. “I apologized after the race. He laughed and said he would have done the same thing to me. He was very kind about it.”
The outing was a fun break from the serious work Carter performed at the CheckIt4Andretti Foundation. The foundation was created after John Andretti — Mario’s nephew who also enjoyed a successful racing career — was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2017. After a three-year fight against the disease, John Andretti died at age 56 on Jan. 30, 2020.
“He made his condition public because he said he didn’t want other people and their families to go through what he and his family were going through,” Carter says. “So, he put the hashtag #CheckItForAndretti on his car. Pretty soon all of the Andrettis had it on their cars, and it just grew from there. After he died, his wife, Nancy, and their three kids made it their mission to prevent people dying from colon cancer.”
The CheckIt4Andretti Foundation’s goal is to save lives through increased awareness of the importance of screenings in the prevention and early detection of colorectal cancer. The foundation provides funds for high-risk, low-income patients who are uninsured, underinsured or too young for insurance to cover the cost of screening.
Carter helped build the foundation’s website and assisted in raising funds. She hopes to continue that work in the summer before heading to Wake Forest University to pursue a master’s degree in management.
“They treated me like one of their family,” Carter says. “They’re just the most wonderful family to work with.”