INDIANAPOLIS 500 VETERAN ANDRES DIES AT 88 INDIANAPOLIS, July 27, 1999 -- Services were held July 26 in Flossmoor, Ill., for Emil Andres, who drove in nine Indianapolis 500-Mile Races, including five before World War II. Burial was in ...
INDIANAPOLIS 500 VETERAN ANDRES DIES AT 88
INDIANAPOLIS, July 27, 1999 -- Services were held July 26 in Flossmoor, Ill., for Emil Andres, who drove in nine Indianapolis 500-Mile Races, including five before World War II. Burial was in Tinley Park (Ill.) Memorial Cemetery. Andres, who attended every Indy 500 from 1928 on, died July 20 at Rest Haven South Christian Convalescent Home in South Holland, Ill., following a fall in his home. He was 88. Andres was past president and honorary chairman of the 500 Oldtimers Club as well as former president of the 100-MPH Club at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He celebrated his 60th anniversary of qualifying for his first "500," in 1996. Actually, Andres was the first alternate for the 1935 race. George Connor, who as a rookie that year finished 19th, now is the sole surviving participant of the '35 event. Duke Nalon, who spent the day with Andres just prior to his fall, is one of the few other drivers from the pre-World War II era still alive. "The first race I went to was at Crown Point, Ind., in 1927," Andres related in a 1996 interview. "I liked it so much I wanted to go to Indy. I drove a Model T Ford Coupe down, and it took eight hours. Louie Meyer won, and I sat on the hood of my car the whole race." Four years later, Andres began his racing career at Evanston (Ill.) Motor Speedway. He drove stock cars in 1932 and sprint cars in 1933. This was in the height of the Great Depression, and purses were tiny and safety a secondary item. "You really were dedicated to auto racing, because you loved it so much," he said. "I was more fortunate than most because I always made a buck as a driver and car owner." He drove the Carew car in his first "500" in 1936. J. Stewart Carew, heir to the Carew Tower family in Cincinnati, owned it. He was paid 40 percent of the $800 purse he earned for 18th place after qualifying 33rd. Andres missed the 1937 race, but then had finishes of 29th, 30th, 12th and 30th in the final four races before the Speedway was shut down for World War II. Racing at the Speedway returned in 1946, and so did Andres following U.S. Army Air Force service in the war. That proved to be his best "500." Driving the Elgin Piston Pin Special owned by Frankie Brisko, he qualified 11th and finished fourth. That paid him his largest purse of $10,000. He drove in three more races and had finishes of 13th, 31st and ninth He retired after driving his final race at Milwaukee in 1950. He said he often regretted that he never won the "500." "It was my own fault I never won," he said. "I wasn't very sociable, which is why I never had a car that could win. I was rough and tough. I think you had to be that way during the Depression. You had to fight for every buck you got." His biggest win came at Milwaukee in 1948 driving a Kurtis Offy owned by Babe Tuffenelli. During his career he raced midgets in the Chicago area and sprint cars on a circuit promoted by Frank Funk that included tracks like Winchester, Jungle Park, Fort Wayne (all in Indiana) and Greenville, Ohio. His competitors included Kelly Petillo, Rex Mays and Al Theisen. Andres helped form the AAA stock car division. Later he directed the USAC stock car division from 1959 through 1968 and then became a champ car official. Andres would not pinpoint a favorite driver. "There were a lot of super drivers," he said. "Some got too ambitious and didn't survive. Today when people ask me if I ever won the '500,' I say I won everyone I was in because I survived." Andres was born Feb. 22, 1911, in Tinley Park, Ill., and lived the last 35 years in Flossmoor. When he wasn't racing, he farmed in the area. Survivors include wife Charlotte (a retired schoolteacher); two daughters, Loren Ann Scannell and Alyce Andres, son, John, and two grandchildren. Memorial donations may be made to either the 500 Oldtimers Club or the Salvation Army.