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Mario Andretti’s Mother Dies at Age 90

December 30, 2003

BETHLEHEM, Pa. (AP) _ Rina Andretti, mother of retired auto racing great Mario Andretti, died at a personal care home Monday. She was 90.

After immigrating from Italy in the 1950s, Andretti settled with her family in Nazareth in eastern Pennsylvania, where she raised twin sons and a daughter.

Family and friends said she supported her son Mario’s career choice. Mario’s brother, Aldo Andretti, was seriously injured in a 1959 crash and retired from racing 10 years later.

``She understood our passion. She would always defend us,″ said Mario, who retired from the CART series in 1994 after winning 67 Champ car poles, 52 races and four championships. He also won the Formula One championship in 1979 and the 1967 Daytona 500.

In April, at age 63, Andretti returned to the cockpit as his son Michael’s Indy Racing League team tested for the Indianapolis 500. His comeback attempt ended when he ran over debris and went airborne, the car flipping end-over-end twice before landing its wheels.

Michael Andretti retired from racing this past May after posting a CART-record 42 career victories. He also led more laps at Indianapolis (398) than any other non-winner. Mario’s nephew, John Andretti, is a NASCAR driver.

Born in Montona, Italy, in 1913, Andretti and her family spent seven years in an Italian refugee camp before coming to the United States.

Andretti is survived by her three children, 12 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren. Funeral services are scheduled for Friday.

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