Andy Linden

Andy Linden

5/4/1922 - 10/2/1987

He was tough, muscle bound U.S. marine during the Second World War and was one of the primary contenders in the USAC sprints and midgets in his early career. When midget racing started losing its appeal to the fans in the late '40s, he went to drive Indy cars along with the likes of Walt Faulkner and Manny Ayula. He became one of the top Champ Car driver in the fifties.

On May 1 he came 4th in the MGM Sweepstakes in a Broome. This was a Libre type race for both Sprint Cars and Champ Cars. The race was won by Duane Carter in the Agajanian Special Sprinter. The race was underwritten by MGM, the movie studio. Cameramen were on hand to film the race and other action to be used as background for the movie "To Please A Lady" with Clark Gable and Barbara Stanwyck. If you have ever seen the movie, the early dirt track action was filmed at this race. Midget auto racing legend and the oldest living driver of the Indy 500 Danny Kladis did the actual driving for Clark Gable in the film.

In 1951 he drove the Leitenberger Special to a 4th place finish at Indy. The Leitenberger was easily distinguishable by its extraordinarily long tail section. Linden also finished 3rd in the Leitenberger at Williams Grove later that year. He completed a totla of 953 laps during the 1951 AAA Championship season.

In 1952 he qualified the Fullerton Miracle Power Special Kurtis KK4000/51 in the middle of the front row but went out after 20 laps with an oil leak. The car was powered by a supercharged Offenhauser 111B set up by Porter.

1953 saw the "Hottest 500", which was one of endurance rather than speed. Drivers and cars were tried to their limits. On the third lap, Linden hit the northeast wall and spun into the infield bringing his day to a premature end. He also drove relief, replacing Stevenson in No. 55 car on lap 96. He relieved Ward in the No. 92 car on lap 114 before Dinsmore relieved him on lap 145.

In 1954 he drove relief for Art Cross in another dirt-track car. Cross had moved from 27th to the leads in 51 laps, but at 300 miles, he required relief. The car finished 11th and required four other drivers to reach the checkered flag! Johnnie Parsons, Sam Hanks, Andy Linden and Jimmy. He also qualified the Brown Special 23rd, completing 165 laps for 25th place.

Jimmy Bryan won a thrilling 100 mile AAA Championship race on the 1 mile dirt oval at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. George Amick jumped out front, pacing the first 16 laps before giving way to Andy Linden. A lap later, Bryan got by Amick for 2nd and immediately began pressuring Linden. Linden held off Bryan's attempts until the 30th lap. Bob Sweikert moved into 4th on lap 44 and took off after Amick, a half lap ahead. Sweikert charged up to join the lead trio and the top 4 ran in a tight bunch, lapping 5th place on lap 88. The final 3 laps saw the top 4 running nose to tail, darting in and out around lapped traffic. Entering the last lap, Amick went high to pass a lapped car and slipped out of the groove with Sweikert powering by on the inside to take 3rd. The next turn saw Sweikert get under Linden for 2nd, but there was no catching Bryan. Bryan took the checkered followed closely by Sweikert, Linden and Amick. The win was the 6th straight dirt win on the AAA circuit for defending champ Bryan.

In 1957 he competed in 11 races on Florida speedways for the inaugural Tangerine Midget Tournament title which he won easily.

At the Indy 500 that year, he drove the McNamara/Kalamazoo Sports Kurtis Kraft 500G Roadster, powered by a 255 cubic inch 4-cylinder, Offenhauser engine. Linden qualified the car in 12th at 143.244 and finished 5th.

In August in Terre Haute, Indiana, he drove the McNamara number 73 to victory in the 30 lap USAC Midwest Sprint Car feature on the 1/2 mile dirt oval at the Vigo County Fairgrounds.

Linden appeared to be moving into the realms of real contention, giving Jimmy Bryan a hard time on his way to a third Indy car National Championship title in 1956. However he was injured critically in a midget race in Clovis, California later in November 1957. Something pierced his crash helmet and damaged his brain. He never raced again and was crippled and incapacitated the rest of his life confined to a wheelchair, until amazingly he eventually learned to walk again. A tough competitor in all ways.

He had about 70 career starts. He was 5th in points in 1955, 6th two years later, also won a Sprint title. Although he never won a Champ Car race, he scored four thirds and about forty other top ten finishes. He was also 2nd at Williams Grove in 1957.

He died in 1987.


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