Candies & Hughes was one of the more successful teams in drag racing history. When anyone thinks of famous race teams, certainly Candies & Hughes will always be mentioned. Well, we lost a famous man as Paul Candies unexpectedly died over this past weekend from a heart attack at the age of 72 (source: St. Charles Herald-Guide).
How successful was Louisiana based Candies & Hughes’ team? They were the first drag racing team to win a IHRA and NHRA championship in the same year. They also were the first team to win a championship in both Top Fuel and Funny Car.
The modern version of Candies & Hughes’ Funny Car is being campaigned in the Nostalgia Funny Car circles by Jim Broome. The car nicknamed the Cajun ‘Cuda has been driven by Mike Savage and Mike Halstead in recent years. However, famous names that have piloted the legendary car include: Mark Oswald, Leroy Goldstein and of course Leonard Hughes (up until the early ’70s).
Candies & Hughes operated two cars when it was unheard of and early on, the infamous Roland Leong tuned the second car. Richard Tharp came along in the mid-’70s to drive their new Woody Gilmore and Don Long built Top Fueler, which quickly became a world championship car. Later, Oswald would pilot both their Top Fueler and then their Funny Car to huge wins in the ’80s.
Generally speaking, Hughes was the mechanic and Candies supplied the money. Candies helped run a thriving marine transportation company that his father founded, Otto Candies, and that business acumen allowed Paul to add a significant business sense to the team. Candies always kept the team not wanting – they constantly had all the best parts and pieces to go racing. When Candies became President of the company he worked at in the early ’90s, the team soon dissolved.
As a young fan, I used to buy models of race cars such Candies & Hughes early Barracuda and was enamored by the Funny Cars during the ’70s. It was certainly one of the iconic names in the history of drag racing.
Candies, who went to Southeastern Louisiana University and served in the Coast Guard, had additional passions other than drag racing. He was a skilled sportsman that included fishing and hunting, especially in and around Grand Isle, Louisiana. Candies lived in Des Allemands, which is just southwest of New Orleans.
He was a humble man known for his charitable ways and both his local community as well as the drag racing community have lost a significant icon.
Additional source: NHRA
Daryle W. Hier