Augie Pabst, described as “one of the fastest, most charismatic and popular drivers in his day” by the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, to which he’ll be inducted later this year, was named the recipient of the 2010 Bob Akin Award by the Road Racing Drivers Club (RRDC). The award was presented at a dinner prior to the running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the season opener of the 2011 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series.
Each recipient of this honor, considered the top award in motorsports for amateur, vintage/historic or semi-professional drivers, is selected by Akin’s son Bobby, RRDC members Brian Redman and Archie Urciuoli, and approved by RRDC president Bobby Rahal.
The distinctive trophy was conceived by the RRDC to honor the memory of long-time RRDC member and past president Bob Akin, who lost his life in a racing accident in 2002.
The trophy was designed by Steuben Glass in Corning, N.Y., and is given to a driver who best exemplifies the extraordinary qualities and characteristics that Akin represented, including a passion for motorsports and automobiles, a high level of sportsmanship and fair play, and who has contributed to the sport of motor racing.
A scion of the family that founded Pabst Brewing Company in 1844, whose early racing career spanned a 10-year period (1956-66), Pabst won the 1959 USAC Road Racing Championship and the SCCA B-Modified Championship in 1960. He and his wife Joan reside in Oconomowoc, Wis., and he considers historic Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., his home track.
Pabst was presented the award by Urciuoli, Akin and Rahal. “I got to know Bob Akin when I drove with him a couple times in 1979 and 1980,” said Rahal. “Ten years ago Bob and Brian Redman approached me to be the president of the RRDC because they had a great passion for the club and thought maybe I could help them in that fashion. Unfortunately, we lost Bob in an accident in 2002. He represented so many good things and epitomized a true gentleman in the sport.”
Added Urciuoli: “Bob was a great fellow competitor who was tragically killed at the age of 66. He had a great 40-year road-racing career and gave generously back to our sport, to his family, his community and his business.
“We’re very proud to present the 2010 Bob Akin Award to Augie Pabst.”
Pabst’s success in the late ’50s and early ’60s as one of road-racing’s most versatile stars came driving the famous Meister Brauser Scarab, which he today drives in vintage competition. He also scored significant victories for Briggs Cunningham, John Mecom Jr., Carroll Shelby and Luigi Chinetti. He retired in early 1966.
“Like many of us, Augie began racing in regional SCCA events, starting in a Triumph TR3 in 1956,” said Urciuoli. “He had his first major win in 1959 in a Ferrari 500 TR and ended that year as the USAC Road Racing Champion in the famous Meister Brauser Scarab. In 1960 he won five SCCA nationals and the Class B-Modified championship and was named U.S. Driver of the Year by Competition Press. He continues to race in motorsports events at Road America and often had some spirited dices with Bob Akin.”
“Bob Akin and I had a lot of fun together in vintage racing in the ’90s,” said Pabst, a three-time winner of the Road America 500 (1961, ’63 and ’64). “He had a very fast little Cooper and in the beginning the Scarab that I drove and the Cooper were very similar on lap times and each year the Cooper got a little faster. We used to go down from turn 3 to turn 5 at Road America and the Scarab would pull away from the Cooper. About two or three years later the Cooper would go past the Scarab.
“I feel honored and humbled to receive this award because I thought Bob was such a great person and a fabulous driver. He was a good sport and sportsman. He loved the sport as much, if not more, than we did. He contributed so much, in both professional and vintage racing.”
Past recipients of the Bob Akin Award have been Sam Posey, Charlie Gibson, John Fitch, Jim Haynes, Cameron Argetsinger, Jim Downing and Steve Earle.
The permanent trophy, listing annual winners, is on display at the International Motor Racing Research Center (IMRRC) in Watkins Glen, N.Y. The recipients receive a smaller, engraved version of the award.
[Source: RRDC; photo credit: Jeff Tan]