People Places & Racing News

Off-Road Racer Andy Cohen Passes Away

By SEMA Editors

Andy Cohen

Andrew “Andy” Philip Cohen, 52, of Oak Hills, California, passed away October 24, 2016, with his family by his side, after a 15-month battle with brain cancer. He was born in Queens, New York, June 25, 1964.

In 1980, he began racing sportsman class in drag racing on weekends in Englishtown, New Jersey. After graduating from Comsewogue High School in 1982, he sold his race car and bought a Jeep CJ7. Shortly thereafter, Cohen began racing for a small off-road repair shop called the 4 Wheel Drive Wizard. The land on which they raced was owned by a local McDonald’s franchisee, and because of Cohen’s success, the franchisee decided to form his own race team with Cohen racing for him.

Within months of purchasing his Jeep, Cohen secured a job in Las Vegas, and began pursuit of his dream to have a career in off-road racing. A race team was formed in 1986, setting the wheels in motion for Cohen to begin building his own trucks. The team’s successes provided for Cohen’s family until his retirement in 1992. He also started a new venture with Budweiser in 1991 by selling sponsors’ products from a promotional trailer at the races. In 1993, Budweiser bought out Cohen and continued the program in house.

After retiring from racing, he became involved with law enforcement as a volunteer for several years with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. He also worked as a juvenile transport officer at a private school.

For the past 33 years, Cohen’s career as CEO and founder of Finishlinewest consisted of building image vehicles for both the end user and the automotive aftermarket. Since 1995, he had built off-road, pre-runner, tuner and SUVs for upscale clients, and from 1983 to the present, he built show vehicles for SEMA.

Cohen received several honors and awards during his lifetime, including the Commanders Award—San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department (1995), Resolution from the County of San Bernardino (1995), Certificate of Appreciation from the Twin Peaks Line Reserves (1995), and the March of Dimes Volunteer Award (1996).

Cohen was preceded in death by his grandmother Sybil C. Simon. He is survived by his wife of nine years Kristen A. Cohen and his children Ashli Cohen, Aaron Cohen and Arielle Loveless.

A celebration of life will be held Saturday, January 14, from 1:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m., at Andy and Kristen’s home in Oak Hills. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made in Cohen’s memory to The City of Hope.

To help pay for his medical bills, Cohen’s family has set up a GoFundMe page.