The four-time Indy car champion and 1978 F1 World Champion sent a message by Twitter:
“Aldo Andretti, my loving twin brother, my partner in crime and my faithful best friend every day of my life was called to heaven last night. Half of me went with him. There is no eloquence. I’m shaken to my core.”
After the family moved from Montona, Italy (now Motovun, Croatia) to America in June 1955, Aldo and Mario took with them their strong memories of witnessing the Mille Miglia and the Italian GP at Monza: it would prove to be the foundation of their dream to enter motorsports.
The pair were thrilled to discover a half-mile dirt oval in the town where their parents elected to settle, Nazareth, Pennsylvania.
After Aldo and Mario scored A-grades in English and mathematics, they worked part-time at a local gas station and saved their earnings to spend on rebuilding a 10-year-old Hudson into a racecar, and they shared driving duties.
Almost immediately they started winning at Nazareth Speedway despite their lack of points from the previous season forcing them to start from the back of the field. Suitably encouraged, they started trailering the Hudson further afield – Flemington, NJ and Hatfield, PA – all unbeknown to their father Gigi.
Then Aldo suffered a huge accident at Hatfield while running third in a heat race. His right-front wheel caught a protruding plank in the ‘safety’ fence which flipped the car into the air and when it landed the roof and rollbar gave way. Aldo’s helmet cracked in the accident and he was taken to hospital and fell into a coma.
Mario, who kept vigil by his bedside, finally had to come clean with his father about their racing activities. When Aldo came around 10 days later, he discovered his concussion was so severe that he had to learn to walk again.
In fact, throughout 1960, Mario was the only driver in their new (old!) racecar as Aldo continued to recover. Finally at the end of the year, Aldo felt ready to try driving at competition speed once again, but at Nazareth Speedway on his second outing since the accident, he suffered another heavy accident on the backstraight. Although this time he suffered nothing worse than a broken finger, Aldo’s racing career was over.
Aldo remained a major racing enthusiast however, and thereafter regularly attended races, supporting his brother’s activities. Nor was it any surprise that two of his five children, Adam and John, went into racing. Adam most recently competed in Stadium Super Trucks and Trans-Am, while John had a successful career in Indy cars, IMSA and NASCAR. John succumbed to colon cancer in January this year.
Even after John retired, Aldo was a regular at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, supporting his nephew Michael and Michael’s son, Marco. The latter tweeted:
“RIP uncle Aldo. One of the toughest guys I have ever met. I have never heard him complain, a trait that he passed down to John. Always so positive and upbeat and raised an amazing side of our Andretti family.”
Andretti Autosport issued a statement: “It is with the deepest condolences we share that Aldo Andretti departed this life Wednesday evening in Indianapolis, Indiana. Aldo was born February 28, 1940 and passed peacefully with a heart full of love and spirit.
Born in Montona, Italy, Aldo and his family emigrated to the United States in 1955 and he and twin brother Mario went on to become the start of the greatest racing dynasty in history.
Though Aldo’s life took a different direction than brother Mario’s, Aldo forever shared a passion for racing and was a true motor enthusiast and entrepreneur. He could often still be found on the racing circuit supporting and following the careers of the family.
Nothing mattered more to Aldo than family, and it brought him great pride to share his life with wife and high-school sweetheart Corky and their five children Carolyn, Mark, John, Mary Jo and Adam.”
Mario and Aldo Andretti at Indy in 1965, the year in which Mario won Rookie of the Year and finished third.