Monday, March 6, 2017

Bob Akin Born In North Tarrytown, New York - March 6, 1936

March 6, 1936 - April 29, 2002
Bob Akin
(Photo; www.grandtouringprototype.com)
Born In North Tarrytown, New York, USA.
Bob was a successful business executive, journalist, television commentator and champion sports car racing driver. He was educated at Hackley School in Tarrytown and later served on its board for 30 years and as president from 1980 to 1990. At Columbia University, he earned a bachelor's degree in engineering and a master's degree in business administration. He spent 40 years with the Hudson Wire Company in Ossining, N.Y., which was founded by his grandfather in 1901, and was president from 1974 until he retired in 1995. In 1989 the company was dominating the worldwide aircraft and aerospace wiring market when it was sold to the Phelps Dodge Corporation.

Akin began his racing career in 1957, competing in outboard boat racing and in drag racing in 1957 and 1958. He switched to road racing, acquiring his amateur SCCA national racing license in 1959 and hired legendary sports car racer John Fitch as his driving coach. Proving a quick study, he piloted an Alfa Veloce Spider to his first win in only his third race at Bridgehampton. He drove a front engine Volpini Formula Junior in 1960, then switched to a 1957 Ferrari 500 TRC for several races during the early part of the 1961 season, before retiring in July of that year, to concentrate on the family business.

Almost by accident, Akin returned to racing in 1973, after accepting an invitation from his friend, Sam Posey, to drive a few laps in his Mercedes-Benz 300SL, at the July 4th, 1973 Vintage Sports Car Club of America event at Lime Rock Park. Within a month, he was back at it in earnest, driving a Lotus 11 in vintage racing events until switching to the 1959 Cooper-Monaco that would prove to be his favorite racer, in 1975.

In 1978, he purchased a Porsche RSR Carrera thinking it would be fun to run in the 1978 12 Hours of Sebring. They ran what was considered to be a test run at Daytona, before the Sebring event, then continued on racing a full season that would include racing at Le Mans with a Porsche 935 Turbo. Now solidly back in the drivers seat, compiled an impressive list of achievements, highlighted by a 6-Hour win at Watkins Glen, '79 and '86 12 Hours of Sebring victories, two second-place finishes in the '81 and '82 24 Hours of Daytona, six appearances, including a fourth overall in '84, at Le Mans. He won the IMSA Camel GT series in 1986 and had four top-10 finishes in IMSA Endurance Championship points standings. He was also a member and former president of the prestigious Road Racing Drivers Club.

Akin retired from professional racing in 1991 but stayed quite active in the sport. He returned to racing his beloved vintage and historic cars, competed in the Fastmasters racing series, wrote articles for Road & Track magazine, and did on-air commentary for Speedvision, TBS and ESPN television. Following his retirement from Hudson Wire Company, in 1995, Akin also devoted his time to the management of Bob Akin Motorsports (Now Hudson Historics), which specializes in the restoration and race preparation of historic race cars.

On April 25, 2002, he was gravely injured in a violent crash while testing a powerful, 1988 Nissan GTP ZX-Turbo for the Walter Mitty Challenge for historic cars at Road Atlanta. His injuries included a broken neck, left leg, left shoulder and right arm, along with third-degree burns over 15 percent of his body. He was airlifted to Grady Memorial Hospital after the accident. After briefly rallying, the 66 year old succumbed due to complications from his injuries on April 29, 2002.

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