Paul Candies had a need for speed, a knack for success

By Lori Lyons
Written for the LSWA


Paul Candies may have made his fortune on the water with his ever-growing fleet of tugboats, but he earned his fame and notoriety on land with a bunch of really fast cars.

A small town boy from Des Allemands, Louisiana, Candies, who died in 2013 at the age of 72, was an entrepreneur who helped turn his father, Capt. Otto Candies’, company from a one-boat business into one of the largest marine transportation companies in the country. He also helped build another of his dad’s legacies, the International Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo, into the cultural and economic boon it is today.

But Candies also liked fast cars and the people who made them go. So, in his “spare” time, Candies became part of one of the most successful drag racing partnerships in history – Candies and Hughes, the name emblazoned in a signature gold leaf on stock cars, funny cars and dragsters, as well as the trucks and trailers used to haul them across the country.

The unique combination of impact on Louisiana’s sports world has resulted in the posthumous Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame induction of Candies on Saturday, June 30 in Natchitoches. Already a member of the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame, Candies will join world motocross champion Freddie Spencer as the only two motorsports figures enshrined so far in the state’s hall.

Candies also was known for his generosity. On the track, he would lend a hand or a tool to anyone, even opposing drivers. When Grand Isle was going through a major water shortage, he used his shipping company to bring water to bring water to the island. He also donated the land where the Tarpon Rodeo pavilion was built.

“Jefferson Parish and Grand Isle lost a tremendous ambassador,” Jefferson Parish Assessor and former Tarpon Rodeo president Tom Capella said at the time of Candies’ death.

The Candies name still lives on as Otto Candies, a multi-million-dollar marine transport business, which also sponsors the Hahnville High School American Legion team (Candies’ alma mater).

“The guy never forgot where he came from,” said Joe Tutone III, whose father, Joe “Big Joe” Tutone Jr. was a car dealer, fellow racer and personal friend of Candies. “The guy treated everybody like he wanted to be treated. He never acted like he was better than anybody. He was just a good, honest man and his two hobbies were drag racing and tarpon fishing.”