Rob Dyson, retired American sports-car racing driver and owner of Dyson Racing, was named the 2019 recipient of the RRDC Bob Akin Award. He was presented the award at the annual Road Racing Drivers Club members’ dinner on January 22, prior to the running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the season opener of the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
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 Judy Stropus, and approved by RRDC president Bobby Rahal.
The distinctive trophy was conceived by the RRDC in 2003 to honor the memory of longtime RRDC member and past president Bob Akin, who lost his life in a racing accident in 2002.
It 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 and the community at large.
The primary award, etched with the names of the recipients, is displayed at the International Motor Racing Research Center in Watkins Glen, N.Y. Each honoree receives a smaller replica.
Dyson, 73, began competing in amateur SCCA competition in 1974 and in 1981 won the Sports Car Club of America’s GT2 national championship. He began racing professionally in IMSA GTO and the SCCA Trans-Am Series in 1982. Over the course of 21 seasons as a professional driver Dyson drove in 92 races, scoring four overall race wins (including the 1997 Rolex 24 at Daytona) and a total of 18 podium finishes. Dyson continued to compete episodically in professional racing through 2007 and today remains active driving his collection of vintage Indy cars in a variety of demonstration events. He is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Dyson-Kissner-Moran Corporation, a privately-owned international holding company.
A longtime friend of Bob Akin’s, Dyson was presented the Bob Akin Award by Bobby Akin, Stropus and Rahal.
“All past winners of this award have been deserving,” said Akin. “However, even if you rounded them all up you would likely not have the parallels that Rob Dyson has with my father.
“Both hail from the Hudson Valley of New York. Both had the responsibility of running a family business and were driven to succeed. That drive to succeed delayed their racing careers. Both ran successful racing teams often competing against each other in Porsche 962s.
“Rob began racing in 1974 and won an SCCA National Championship. He began racing on a professional level in 1982, drove in 92 races, earning 18 podiums, the highlight being a win here at the Rolex 24.
“Oh, and one last parallel: our winner also has a son who races, Chris. He’s a lot more serious than I, and, like me, calls his dad his best friend.”
“He and I were such great friends,” said Dyson of Bob Akin, “that we would get together often. We had an expression while we were running both against one another but kind of with one another: we wanted to keep the prize money on the East side of the Hudson River. And whenever either one of us did well, either in Daytona, Sebring, or any other race, we were pleased when one of us got into the prize money and we would often have lunch afterwards. And, if he did better than I did, he bought, and if I did better than he did, I bought. So, that’s the way we worked.”
On the significance of receiving this award, Dyson said, “It ignites a lot of great memories related to my racing career but even more great memories of my good friend Bob Akin. And the spirit and comradeship that we had as competitors and as friends during our lives on and off the race track.
“The only thing I’m sorry about is that he’s not here today so that I could give him the Rob Dyson Award. Thank you so much.”