Aldo Andretti, former racing driver and twin brother to the legendary Mario Andretti, has died at age 80. He passed on December 30, 2020 as a result of COVID-19, RACER reports.
The Andretti brothers began life in Istria, then a part of Italy, and were forced into exile in 1948 as a result of the Istrian exodus. Three years later, the Andretti family was on their way to America in search of a better life. They ended up in Nazareth, Pennsylvania with a few dollars to their name and a passion for motorsport.
Aldo and Mario almost immediately began their quest to start racing. They rebuilt a 1948 Hudson Commodore into a stock car in 1959, going out to race it without telling their parents. The toss of a coin determined who would get to race in the first race. During the first event they ever contested, Aldo won it all: the coin toss, the heat race, and the feature.
By many accounts, Aldo was the unluckier of the two brothers. During that first season in racing, he fractured his skull in a severe crash that left him in a coma. He recovered to go on racing, but his career ended in 1969. During a sprint car race in Des Moines, Aldo flipped end over end before crashing into a fence. He had 14 facial fractures, with his right eye socket being completely shattered.
Aldo recovered after facial reconstructive surgery—the reason why these identical twin brothers no longer looked alike—but Mario made one request. His brother needed to stop racing.
That’s just what Aldo did. He opened Andretti Firestone, then went on to establish a machine shop for hospital beds.
He also established a family that has continued the racing pedigree. John Andretti, his eldest son, raced in everything from CART to the NHRA, taking home Rookie of the Year accolades at the 1988 Indy 500. His youngest son, Adam Andretti, found a place in stock car racing and Stadium Super Trucks.
2020, though, has already been a difficult year for the Andrettis. In January, John died after a lengthy battle with colon cancer. It was capped off by Aldo’s death.
Without Aldo Andretti, we wouldn’t have the Andretti racing dynasty as it exists today. He will be missed.