Robert Macomber "Bob" Akin, III (March 6, 1936 – April 29, 2002) was an American business executive, journalist, television commentator and champion sports car racing driver.

Biography

Bob Akin was born March 6, 1936, in North Tarrytown, N.Y., and was raised in Sleepy Hollow Manor. 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 (900-plus horsepower, twin-turbocharged V-6) 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.

The Bob Akin Memorial Motorsports Award

In memory of Akin, the Road Racing Drivers Club (RRDC) established the Bob Akin Memorial Motorsports Award, in 2003. The selection committee consists of Brian Redman, Judy Stropus and Bob's son, Bobby Akin. The permanent trophy, designed by Steuben Glass, in Corning, New York, is inscribed with the name and year of award of each annual recipient, and displayed at the International Motor Racing Research Center at Watkins Glen, New York. Individual replica trophies are given to each honoree.

"The Akin award is for 'speed with style' which aptly describes Bob Akin" said RRDC President Bobby Rahal. "Not every member of the RRDC is a professional driver, but every one loves racing and is a good guy, and that perfectly describes Bob." The Road Racing Drivers Club presents the Bob Akin Memorial Motorsports Award annually to the race driver who exemplifies the characteristics for which Bob was known and respected:

  • A passion for motorsports and automobiles
  • A history of successful amateur and/or vintage racing
  • A high level of sportsmanship and fair play
  • An articulate and courteous presence
  • A sharp wit and mischievous sense of humor
  • A broad range of interests and meticulous attention to detail
  • A record of contribution to motorsports and the community
  • A devotion to family and friends

Bob Akin Memorial Motorsports Award Recipients

2003 – Sam Posey

2004 – Charlie Gibson

2005 – John Fitch

2006 – Jim Haynes

2007 – Cameron Argetsinger

2008 – Jim Downing

2009 – Steven J. Earle

2010 – Augie Pabst

2011 – Don Knowles

2012 – Miles Collier

2013 – Peter Sachs

2014 - Bill Warner

2015 - Judy Stropus

2016 - Murray Smith

2017 - Archie Urciuoli

2018 - Jeff Zwart

2019 - Rob Dyson

2020 - No Award Given

2021 - Jeremy Shaw

Racing record

24 Hours of Le Mans results

Year Team Co-drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
pos.
1978 United States Dick Barbour Racing United States Steve Earle
United States Bob Garretson
Porsche 935-77 IMSA
GTX
159 DNF DNF
1979 United States Dick Barbour Racing United States Rob McFarlin
United States Roy Woods
Porsche 935/77A IMSA
GTX
78 DNF DNF
1980 United States Racing Associates Inc. United States Ralph Kent-Cooke
United States Paul Miller
Porsche 935 K3/79 IMSA 237 DNF DNF
1981 United States Bob Akin Motor Racing United States Paul Miller
United States Craig Siebert
Porsche 935-K3/80 IMSA
GTX
320 DNF DNF
1982 United States Bob Akin Motor Racing United States David Cowart
United States Kenper Miller
Porsche 935-L1 IMSA
GTX
15 DNF DNF
1984 Switzerland Brun Motorsport Germany Prince Leopold von Bayern
Switzerland Walter Brun
Porsche 956B C1 340 4th 4th

12 Hours of Sebring results

Year Team Co-drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
pos.
1978 United States Earle & Akin Racing United States Steve Earle
United States Rick Knoop
Porsche 911 Carrera RSR GTX 225 5th 4th
1979 United States Dick Barbour Racing United States Rob McFarlin
United States Roy Woods
Porsche 935 GTX 239 1st 1st
1980 United States Mendez/Woods/Akin United States Skeeter McKitterick
United States Roy Woods
Porsche 935 K3 GTX 232 5th 5th
1981 United States Bob Akin Motor Racing United Kingdom Derek Bell
United States Craig Siebert
Porsche 935 K3 GTX 62 DNF DNF
1982 United States Bob Akin Motor Racing United Kingdom Derek Bell
United States Craig Siebert
Porsche 935 K3/80 GTP 212 12th 6th
1983 United States Bob Akin Motor Racing United States John O'Steen
United States Dale Whittington
Porsche 935 K3/80 GTP 231 2nd 1st
1984 United States Bob Akin Motor Racing United States John O'Steen
Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck
Porsche 935-84 GTP 256 5th 5th
1985 United States Bob Akin Motor Racing United States Jim Mullen
Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck
Porsche 962 GTP 66 DNF DNF
1986 United States Bob Akin Motor Racing Austria Jo Gartner
Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck
Porsche 962 GTP 287 1st 1st
1987 United States Bob Akin Motor Racing United States Steve Shelton
United Kingdom James Weaver
Porsche 962 GTP 280 6th 5th

Primary Information Sources

NY Times Obituary, dated May 3, 2002, Bob Akin, 66, Auto Racer Who Won at Sebring Twice

Internet Source: Dark Horse Racing

Internet Source: Hudson Historics About Us

Internet Source: Historic Racing

Internet Source: Road Racing Drivers Club