Bob Oker -- AC Bristol

California State Fairgrounds, Sacramento, California on September 30, 1956.  Bob Oker in Ed Savin's AC-Bristol enroute to a first in class and first overall in the production race for cars over 1500ccs.

Mike Savin, son of AC Bristol owner Edwin Savin, contributed his memories of this Sacramento event:

"Bob drove for my dad.  The AC was tuned by mechanic Bill Rudd who worked at Dad's shop.  Dad (Ed Savin) owned the car.  Bob did a great job of driving the car.

I was present at this particular race weekend.  It was a big deal for me.  I had just started 9th grade, and I was allowed to travel with the men from our home in the LA area (Monterey Park) to Sacramento.  I had never seen the state capitol -- and was excited about it.  Took some time off from school.  (My dad had the same philosophy as Mark Twain: "I never allowed schooling to interfere with my education".  I shot some great 8 mm night shots of the Capitol building all lit up, besides shooting some movies at the races.

On Saturday, only the second race for the AC (and the first with its new paint job), Bob drew the dead last starting position.  The crew joked, called him "Dead Ass Last Oker" -- seems he often drew last position (drew numbered marbles from a jar).

In this event, there were many cars of larger displacement: Jags, 300SLs, etc.  It was a 10 lap event.  Before too long, Bob had passed everyone and was beginning to lap the field.  The crew signaled him to slow down.  He didn't.  When he came back in, the crew asked why he ignored their signal.  He said he was trying to catch Drake (Bob Drake).  Drake was supposed to be driving a 300SL in this event (he didn't make it).

On Sunday morning, there was a huge to-do about the AC. This was the first AC Bristol imported to the US.  The argument was that AC would never build enough of these cars to qualify as a true production car (and thus wasn't actually legal to race in this class).  An AC Bristol had a 2 liter engine -- the AC six was rated at 100 hp.  The Bristol, in it's lowest stage, about 120 as I recall.  Anyway, the car's performance, and Bob's driving, really impressed everyone.  The protestors wanted the car's engine torn down, but no one put up the necessary money to have it done.

I do remember the announcer saying how beautiful the car looked.  Bob ran this car in 22 races.  Got 20 first place trophies, and many overall production class wins, 1 second, and one crash (at Honolulu).  Quite a record.

Carroll Shelby was a friend and business associate of dad's.
Dad had exclusive distributorship for the first synthetic lubricant, Steen C.  Carroll was a distributor for Texas under dad.  I always thought that 59's performance inspired Shelby to build the Cobra."

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