1982 Porsche 935 L
Chassis: 935 L1
This is Bob Akin's famous Le Mans car of 1982. It was one of the wildest Porsche 935s of the post-factory era, and also one of the fastest.
From 1977 the Porsche 935 was the car to have if you wanted to win IMSA or world championship events, but by 1982 it became very clear that a standard 935 was no longer competitive. The Porsche factory built its last 935 in 1979, so it was left to private teams to develop the cars with more aggressive aerodynamics and chassis designs.
Bob Akin knew if he wanted to win, he would have to come up with something totally radical for the 1982 season. Akin commissioned Chuck Gaa of Gaaco to design and build a "Super GTP 935". To improve aerodynamics and increase the straight-line speed of the new car a Lola T600 GTP nose was used. A new purpose built monocoque bonded aluminum chassis was constructed combining the best of the new GTP technology with the proven power and reliability of the Porsche 935 mechanicals.
According to the rules, the windshield and roof section of a standard Porsche 930 still had to be used. To improve airflow even further the entire roof structure was tilted to put the windshield at a better angle.
Due to its complexity and unique design, the car was delivered late after the season had already begun. It made its first appearance at Lime Rock in May, which served as a test for Le Mans. At the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June the car's design came into its own and showed tremendous straight-line speed down the famous Mulsanne Straight. Unfortunately Akin and co-drivers David Cowart and Kemper Miller only lasted two hours before a malfunction with the reserve gas tank sidelined the car.
After Le Mans the car returned to the United States to compete in the remainder of the 1982 IMSA season. After much testing and development the car finished fourth at Mid-Ohio with Akin and Hurley Haywood driving, and seventh at Road Atlanta with Akin and Derek Bell. The car's final appearance would be at the Pocono 500.
The car sat in Akins shop until 1999 when Jacques Rivard purchased the car and performed a complete restoration, bringing the car back to better than new condition. All suspension components were crack checked, and new components were used where needed. G&S Autoworks completely rebuilt the engine and transmission. It now is one of the most potent 935s in vintage racing.
Canepa completed a full inspection and detail on the car. It is in spectacular condition and is eligible to compete in historics worldwide, including the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion.Race History
5/31/82 Coca-Cola 400 Lime Rock 23rd Bob Akin #5
6/20/82 24 Hours of Le Mans DNF Akin, Cowart, Miller #76
8/22/82 Road America 500 miles 33rd Akin, Bell #5
9/5/82 Mid-Ohio 6 Hours 4th Akin, Haywood #5
9/12/82 Road Atlanta 500 km 7th Akin, Bell #5
9/26/82 Pocono 500 miles 39th Akin, Bell #5
Engine size: 3.2 liter
Power rating: 800+ horsepower
Body material: Bonded Aluminum Monocoque with Fiberglass Body
Weight: 2324 lbs
Suspension: coil-over MacPherson strut - front, coil-over trailing arm - rear
Tires: 23.5 x 10.5 - 16 front, 27 x 14 - 16 rear
Dimensions: 78" wide, 190.5" long
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 Spyder 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. 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.