In a few short days, the RRDC and the racing community at large lost two legendary figures. John Fitch passed away quietly Wednesday morning, Oct. 31, at the age of 95, his three sons – John, Christopher and Stephen – by his side. His longtime friend and fellow racer Gaston "Gus" Andrey had preceded him peacefully Saturday, Oct. 27, surrounded by his wife Mary Anne, his son Roger and his daughter Jacqueline. Gus was 86 and a 14-year cancer survivor.
Gaston Andrey 1926-2012 John Fitch 1917-2012
It was fitting that the last time the two saw one another was this past Labor Day at Lime Rock Park where they visited with fellow members of the RRDC and other lifetime friends. Sir Stirling Moss, a friend to both, was Grand Marshal for the event.
Born in Indianapolis, Fitch studied engineering at Lehigh University and his subsequent accomplishments speak to a life well and fully lived. Among the bullet points in his vast resume are design engineer, test pilot, WWII P-51 fighter pilot (and POW), prolific inventor, automaker, racing driver, factory team manager, racetrack manager and safety expert. Under "personal" you'll find "true gentleman".
Mille Miglia 2012 - Remembering Fitch's 1955 class victory in a stock 300SL. Peter Singof Image.
The details of Fitch's career are fascinating. He was one of the more successful of the American racers who ventured to Europe in the early 1950s, highlighted by his production car class victory in a Mercedes-Benz 300SL coupe at the 1955 Mille Miglia. His air combat exploits alone are riveting. Read more here, watch the John Fitch interview on Jay Leno's Garage and view his citation upon being inducted into the Motor Sports Hall of Fame of America in Novi, Mich. Also read Simon Taylor's "Lunch with John Fitch" in MotorSport, Douglas Martin's remembrance in The New York Times and watch the spendid video tribute on YouTube by Michael Brown. Funeral arrangements are pending.
RRDC member Donn Gurney of Race Legends, Inc., has advised us of a special memorial site for John Fitch that allows viewers to leave comments for future publication as well as to make donations in John's memory to the VFW Foundation. A memorial service will be held at the Trinity Church directly across from Lime Rock Park on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 2:00 pm.
While Fitch was one of the very first members of the RRDC, Gaston Andrey soon joined him in 1956.
The Andrey/Thompson '57 Sebring GT class winner, entered by GM team manager Fitch. Nigel Smuckatelli Image.
Andrey's racing career spanned from 1955 to 1995. During that time, he won seven national championships in SCCA Club Racing and Trans Am. Gus drove Sebring many times with Luigi Chinetti's NART Team in 250 Testa Rossas, chassis #'s 0706, 0746, 0720 and a 250 SWB California Spider # 2015GT. He twice won the 12-Hour classic. The first victory was managed by Fitch in a ‘57 Corvette in the GT class with Dr. Dick Thompson sharing the seat. His second Sebring win was aboard Autodelta's Alfa Romeo TZ2 in ‘66. Gus won U2 in the inaugural IMSA race at Talladega aboard an Alfa Romeo Gulia Super – all during the "Golden Era" of American sports car racing.
Andrey enjoying 1970 Trans-Am Under 2-liter title. Ray Stone Collection.
Andrey frequented Lime Rock, Bridgehampton, Thompson, Watkins Glen, Nassau, Riverside, VIR and was at the Cuban Grand Prix when Fangio was kidnapped. After a brief hiatus, he returned to the cockpit in late 70s, running cars from his Gaston Andrey Motorsports stable, achieving numerous victories with Alba/Ferraris and finally with the Ferrari 333SP.
Andrey's Maserati Tipo 61 in the VIR paddock. Jack Upchurch Image.
Gus Andrey's life will be celebrated Sunday, Nov. 11 (1:00 to 5:00pm) at his home at 359 Orchard Street in Millis, Mass. His son Roger has asked that remembrances of his father be emailed to
. These will be shared with friends and family on Nov. 11.