Mario Andretti sends encouragement to Italy during coronavirus crisis

Image by Levitt/LAT

Mario Andretti sends encouragement to Italy during coronavirus crisis

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Mario Andretti sends encouragement to Italy during coronavirus crisis

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Racing legend Mario Andretti has offered words of support for his birthplace, as Italy continues to suffer immense losses caused by the COVID-19 virus.

“Look, I left Italy as a boy and before I had lived it in terror, under the bombs,” Andretti told Italian racing magazine Autosprint of World War II’s ravages on his home town of Montona. “And this too of COVID-19, now, looks like a bombing. The enemy cannot see it, it hits you suddenly, he chooses at random and you only know he is there and that you can fall victim to it.”

Italy has risen to second among all countries in the number of coronavirus cases, trailing only China, and has amassed the greatest number of fatalities in the world, surpassing 5400 so far. The Andretti family left Italy in 1955 and settled in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, where second- and third-generation racers have gone onto stardom or long careers in the sport.

“For me, almost 70 years later, to think that my dear Italy is once again enduring this is terrible, it is something that hurts my heart,” he continued. “But know that now the shelters are there and they are also the most beautiful and welcoming you could hope for: They are your houses, unlike then, the safest places. And stay there always or as much as possible, exactly as I am doing in mine.”

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