Jeff Zwart Receives Bob Akin Award

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From left: Bobby Akin, Jeff Zwart, Judy Stropus, Bobby Rahal. (Brian Cleary Photo)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Jeff Zwart, an American commercial film director, racer, photographer, cameraman and author, has been named the┬árecipient of the Road Racing Drivers Club Bob Akin Award.

He was presented the award at the annual Road Racing Drivers Club members’ dinner on Jan. 23, prior to the running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the season opener of the 2019 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.

“This was a total honor and a total surprise when Bobby came to me a few months ago and said that I would be a part of this award,” said Zwart. “It’s actually a bit of a full circle moment. My parents – and probably a lot of people were inspired by the same thing – took me to the movie LeMans. And seeing that movie, I thought, No. 1, I want to race, No. 2, this road racing thing is so cool. And, No. 3, maybe some day I could actually film something like that.”

Zwart, of Corona del Mar, Calif., is an eight-time Pikes Peak International Hill Climb champion who has won in five different classes and has competed in 16 years of this historic event. Driving primarily Porsches, he currently holds three different records on the mountain.

He started racing Formula Fords on the West Coast in the early 1980s, went on to the U.S. Pro Rally Championship, was Open Class National Champion in 1990, and earned a class win at the Baja 1000 in 2004. He also co-founded RACER Magazine with Paul Pfanner.

Zwart is currently running select vintage races and continuing his efforts at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb.

He was presented the Bob Akin Award by Bobby Akin, Stropus and Rahal.

“Jeff Zwart started his racing like many in this room, in a Formula Ford,” said Akin. “He has competed here at Daytona and other classic road racing locations. However, Jeff tended to be most successful when there was a little dirt involved. After his first rally he was hooked. Then the mythic Pikes Peak got his attention and over the years he has amassed eight class wins at this legendary event. He also had a class win at the Baja 1000 and second overall in the Trans-Siberia Rally. No easy task.

“He is an avid historic car collector and driver,” Akin added. “His collection includes a Gmund Porsche 914-6, several important 911s, but, maybe, my favorite is his 906, because he has been known to drive it from L.A. to Laguna Seca, race it, and drive it home again. No trailers required. Cars are meant to be driven – a trait he shares with my father.

“The other qualities an award winner needs to have is to be successful in his non-racing business and be a good person. Our winner has both covered.”