LIME ROCK, CONNECTICUT – September 9, 2005 — Longtime racing driver John Fitch was presented with the Bob Akin award at the Lime Rock Vintage Races on Labor Day – the Rolex Vintage Festival, presented by BMW. The award, from the Road Racing Drivers Club, was given to John by Brian Redman and Ellen Akin.
Fitch raced for 18 years. He is the first national champion of the Sports Car Club of America and the only American to be on the Mercedes-Benz factory team, driving GT and sports racing cars in 1953 and 1955. He drove for the Briggs Cunningham team for twelve years, winning numerous races including the first all-American win at Sebring in 1953 with co-driver Phil Walters. He managed the Corvette Teams at Sebring in 1956 and 1957 and was primarily responsible for making it into a sports car. He has published a new book, titled “Racing with Mercedes,” now available from Race Legends.
He helped to design Lime Rock Park and was its manager in the early days of the track. He invented the Fitch Barrier for highways and several energy-absorbing barriers for racing. In accepting the award, Fitch said “It is my hope that Bob’s name can be a permanent part of the racing world by naming a racing safety device after him – The Akin Barrier.”
The Bob Akin Award memorializes the character and achievements of its namesake, who was a winning road racer from 1959 to 2002. Akin won the IMSA World Endurance Championship in 1986, competed six times in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and twice won the 12 Hours of Sebring, in 1979 and 1986, with a record average speed that still stands, at 115.82 mph. In 1991, he acquired a red Cooper Monaco, with which he won nearly every vintage race he entered.
The annual Akin Award goes to the driver who best exemplifies the characteristics for which Bob was known and respected: a passion for motorsports and automobiles; a history of successful amateur and vintage racing; a high level of sportsmanship and fair play; an articulate and gentlemanly presence; a sharp wit and mischievous sense of humor; a broad range of interests and meticulous attention to detail; a record of contribution to the motorsports community; a devotion to family and friends, and speed with style.