NASCAR, IndyCar and sports-car racing competitor John Andretti died on Thursday (Jan. 30), following a long battle with colon cancer. He was 56.

Andretti was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer and revealed the news to fans in April 2017, spreading advocacy for regular checkups and prevention with the hashtag #Checkit4andretti.

NASCAR President Steve Phelps noted of his achievements: "John Andretti embodied the spirit of a champion and inspired an entire fan base through his courageous battle with cancer. He was a fierce competitor throughout his life, and we are saddened by his passing. The entire NASCAR family extends its deepest condolences and prayers to John's family."

The racer held a pedigree in racing as the nephew of Mario Andretti, who is the only driver to win the Daytona 500, Indianapolis 500 and the Formula One driver’s championship. His father, Aldo—Mario's twin—was also a driver, and he has several cousins who have distinguished themselves in the sport, as well as his own son, Jarrett, who races professionally. His own record includes two wins in NASCAR’s top division from 1993-2010 as well as a string of other notable motorsports distinctions.

"I already beat the age I should have lived to," Andretti said in an interview with the Indianapolis Star last year discussing the news that his cancer had spread. "Growing up when you’re a little bit wild in a race car, I think everybody in our family’s always heard this: ‘You’re not going to live to see 20.’ Then it was, ‘You’re not going to live see 25,’ then, ’30.’

"But here I am. Still going. Our family’s already been through plenty of trials, and we’re still here. To get taken down by this, well, I’m going to go out giving it the strongest fight I can give it.”

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