Bob Oker: A.C. Bristol -- Santa Barbara, Sept 1-2, 1956

Bob Oker drove Ed Savin's A.C. Bristol as #59 but as you can see this car looks considerably different.  We at first thought this shot was from Santa Barbara on May  18-19, 1957 but "MotoRacing" Volume 2 #16 has Oker driving a Morgan that weekend.

Bob Oker's son Bill provided the info & photo below:

(6-24-08)   "Yes...that's Dad in the Ed Savin Bristol. They ran it only one time in its original white with green numbers.  This was in September 1-2, 1956, at Santa Barbara. I have also attached a list of the
AC's race record for your reference.

(6-24-08)  From car owner Ed Savin's son Mike Savin:

"That photo of the Morgan could not be from the same weekend -- though it certainly could be 1957.  Dad was driving the Morgan on the street after the AC arrived.  And the
Morgan was raced up until the AC arrived.  Dad drove the Morgan on the street for some time -- it had a locked rear end, and dad delighted in taking it around corners on two wheels -- scaring the hell out of me. 

LA Times sports editor Steve Dredge wanted, and purchased, the car.  I believe he raced the Morgan for some time. Much to my surprise, I recently read Andy Granatelli's autobiography, "They call me Mr 500" -- and Steve is mentioned near the end of the book: he became Andy's publicist.

The AC was shipped from England in a crate on the deck of a freighter.  When it arrived at the docks in San Pedro, the car was covered with bird shit.  Dad's men cleaned the car
and drove it to the East LA shop.

As purchased, the car was white with black interior.  As Bill states, it was raced only once with the original paint job.  The next outing, Sacramento, the car had its new livery.

Bob Oker took first in class and first overall at that event at Goleta -- something he was to repeat a number of times.  He was giving the drivers of 300SLs, Jaguars, Austin-Healeys, etc.  fits -- as Bob was driving a 2-liter car, beating cars with more displacement and  more

There had been other ACs in the US prior to this one, but this was the first AC ACE with a Bristol engine in the USA.  Later AC Bristols had a "Bristol" tag as part of the AC logo -
this one had only the AC logo.

Again, from an article I read years ago, Shelby mentions that he had been impressed with the performance of an AC - and I believe it was this one. 

I also inserted a short Vignolle article - mentions Ed Savin's challenge - this has to do with a certain race at Palm Springs.  Oker and E Forbes-Robinson (Austin-Healey) had run
1-2 in an earlier production race.  The officials allowed them to start at the rear of the Big Bore production race -- with Dr Dick Thompson on the front row.  Before too long, Oker and E F-R were passing and headed for the front of the pack -- the officials evidently black-flagged Oker and E F-R to avoid embarrassing Thompson with his factory-backed Corvette.  Oker would likely have won the race."

Next:   Fred Woodard: "Pickford" Jaguar Special -- Riverside (?) 1957

Back to:   Skip Hudson: Porsche 550 -- Start, Santa Barbara Airport, May 19, 1957

Back to:   Bill Tibbetts Photos -- Homepage