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Lonnie Rix - AC's 'Man from Savannah'


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#1 Jerry Entin

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 20:30

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Dunnellon Park,Florida- November 1958: lined up for Race 1, a 12-lapper for EP and Under, Lonnie Rix with his blue 1957 AC Bristol #72. On the right is Bill Dunn, who raced the #57 AC.
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Moments later, just before the flag is dropped: Rix, Dunn and Cuban-American Johnny Cuevas in his #83 Carrera. Cuevas won the race, with Rix second overall and 1st in EP.

As part of our series on 1950s racers from the Southeast, we would like to start a thread on Lonnie Rix, an accomplished amateur driver who competed in many of the same races as Richard Macon, Roy Schechter and Charlie Kolb. Born in the small farming community of Garwin, Iowa, on April 28, 1933 [a recent headcount shows a total population of 533], Lonnie seemed destined to become a cabinet maker, just like his dad. Yet, his life took a turn and in the end he became a good customer of the AC factory in England. Lonnie has a cabinet filled with SCCA silverware to prove his racing prowess. Having attended Carroll Shelby's racing school in Texas certainly helped, but Lonnie Rix had real talent. In fact, Rix won the very first event he entered, claiming both the novice and the feature races at Chester, SC, in April 1957.
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Sometimes Lonnie was unable to attend the races he entered. He happened to be employed by the U.S. Air Force and flying missions intervened. At one point Morocco was his base. However, in most cases he managed to make it to the starting grids just in time. Thanks to Lonnie's scrap books and photos, we'll have the opportunity to have another look at those long-forgotten SCCA Regionals in Georgia, South Carolina, Florida and Alabama.
all research Willem Oosthoek- photos lent site Lonnie Rix collection

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#2 Lotus23

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 23:36

Jerry, I ran across Lonnie a few times while we were both members of the SCCA's Savannah (GA) Region 63-66. He was an All-American nice guy whose AC was PDQ. I believe he ran in DProduction in those days.

#3 Jerry Entin

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 23:59

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Lonnie Rix FIA Competition License
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Lonnie Rix SCCA Competition License

Oldest son of the Rix family, Lonnie graduated in 1950 and was sent to trade school in Chicago. But in the Spring of 1953 Lonnie received a draft notice sent to Garwin, indicating he would be up next in his county. Rix joined the Air Force instead, receiving basic training at Parks Air Force Base near Oakland, California. He applied for the Cadet Program and was accepted. Next station was San Antonio for officer's training, followed by Harlington and Waco, where he received his first lieutenant wings. Stationed at Wichita Falls, Texas, and assigned to the KC97 tanker refueling squadron of the Strategic Air Command, he fell in with the sportscar crowd. They used to meet at the carriage house of a local oil millionaire. That is where Lonnie got to know local racers such as Bobby Burns [owner of a Maserati 150S], Norm Scott and Lloyd Ruby, who was already a successful midget driver. Rix saw his first sportscar race at Eagle Mountain near Fort Worth and fell in love with a 1954 AC competing there.
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Lonnie Rix's Austin Healey 100 with Alfin brake drums installed.

However, his first sportscar was an Austin-Healey 100, bought from Clarence Talley Motors in Dallas in exchange for his early-50s Studebaker and an extended payment program. In April 1955 his flying job brought him to a base near Cambridge, England. Lonnie used the opportunity to visit the Austin factory in Birmingham, where he was treated like royalty. When it became clear he was really looking for the Austin-Healey birthplace, the factory limo, an Austin Princess, took him to the Healey works in Warwick, where he spent an enjoyable afternoon. He also bought some rare Alfin drums for his own Healey.
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Note the solid Perspex side screens on Lonnie Rix's Austin, they only came with the very early 1954 Healeys.

Lotus 23: I am sure your are going to enjoy this thread. Lonnie is living in the Miami area now and is 74 years old.

all research Willem Oosthoek- photos lent site Lonnie Rix collection

#4 Jerry Entin

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 15:44

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The new car Park at the Austin Factory in Birmingham,including some Healeys ready for export.
Here are some of the photos taken by Lonnie Rix during his visit to the Midlands in 1955, when England still had a sizeable car industry.
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The Donald Healey works in nearby Warwick.
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Various competition Healeys undergoing maintenance inside the works shop.
all photos lent site Lonnie Rix collection.


#5 Jerry Entin

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 16:12

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Donald Healey's personal 100, a rare fixed head coupe.
photo lent site Lonnie Rix collection

#6 Jerry Entin

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 16:55

After a brief assignment in Sacramento in the winter of 1955 [he saw Ken Miles run his Flying Shingles in California], Rix was stationed in Savannah, Georgia, Lonnie flew SAC B47's while in Savannah, where he also got to know the members of the Savannah Sports Car Club. One of them was Edmund Rahal, a cousin of Bobby Rahal's father Mike. Edmund ran a sportscar dealership in Savannah and he was the one who started the Rahal racing dynasty.

So far Lonnie had never raced. His Healey was so modified with hot rod items that he would have to enter the car in modified class, where it would be outclassed. After one of his flights to Cambridge, he visited the Earl's Court auto show in the Fall of 1956. On display was the latest AC Bristol and it was irresistable for the Air Force man. He met AC sales manager Henderson and placed an order for the 1957 model. It came in blue, with optional 16 inch wheels. The car arrived at the Jacksonville docks in February 1957.
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Lonnie Rix in the AC Bristol on his way to 1st overall at Walterboro in May 1957. Ed Rahal's Jaguar XK-120 is giving chase.

Lonnie won his first race, at Chester, SC, in April 1957, followed by overall victories at Walterboro, SC, in May and St. Simons Island, GA, in June. Then the Southeast quickly developed into a hotbed of racing activity for sportscars, with ever faster modifieds, such as the D-type, the Maserati 200SI and the Ferrari 315S, making their presence known. Rix's production AC was easily outclassed by these sportsracers, but in EP class he remained a formidable opponent. Lonnie became a regular campaigner at airport tracks of Courtland, Fort Pierce, Master Field, New Smyrna, Boca Raton, Dunnellon and Venice.
photo from Lonnie Rix collection.

#7 Jerry Entin

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 17:36

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Lonnie Rix taking the checkered from chief starter Jesse Coleman for the overall win at St. Simons Island in June 1957. Jesse Coleman was also the starter at Sebring, Florida in 1957. He was from the Nashville area.

The Brunswick News of Monday, June 17, reported on the 1957 St. Simons races with a headline that read "English Cars Lead Field In First Festival Racing" and continued:

" English car-building ability shined as brilliantly as the sun yesterday and seized four victories in the six races of the thrill-packed Sunshine Festival Sports Car Races. With a crowd estimated at 4,000 drawn to McKinnon airport, some 50 drivers in almost as many makes and modifications of European speedsters barreled over the runways in the first such show staged in this area."

" The finale was won by Lonnie G. Rix of Savannah driving his AC Bristol 51.25 miles in 53 minutes, 4.7 seconds. It was one of two races for big-engine cars but the event proved again that driving skill, acceleration and light weight will beat the fastest of the fine engine sportscars. Rix headed off all challenges from cars which on long runways would have passed him going away."

Newspaper report: Willem Oosthoek Collection
photo: Lonnie Rix collection.

Edited by Jerry Entin, 19 February 2010 - 13:46.


#8 scags

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 19:41

Great pictures- my mother - in - law lives on St Simons, but I never heard of any racing on the tiny airport. also, on the licence, the permanent address is Plattsburg, NY, an air force base on the NY - Quebec border.

#9 Jerry Entin

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 20:33

Glad you are enjoying the pictures Scags: The St Simon Island races were shortlived. We have not been able to establish an event for 1958 so far. In 1959 it appeared on the SCCA calendar for June 13-14, but the Savannah Region of the SCCA moved it to Fernandina Beach for unknown reasons. More on that race later!

Note that the date on Lonnie's Plattsburgh, NY, FIA license dates from 1962. In August of 1959 he was reassigned there, from his Savannah base. The new location allowed him to compete at Northeastern tracks such as Lime Rock, Marlboro, Thompson and even St Eugene near Montreal. But more on that later.

All research Willem Oosthoek

#10 Alan Cox

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 20:50

Another fantastic thread, Jerry. What with your usual excellent captions, the next best thing to having been there!

#11 Jerry Entin

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 21:06

Alan: Thank you very much for those kind words. This site is only possible because Lonnie Rix has lent his great pictures too us. There are going to be some great pictures brought forward on this thread.

#12 Jerry Entin

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 22:15

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New Smyrna Beach, February 1958. In the production race [ Race 3 for 12 laps] Rees Makins' Corvette led for a couple of laps, but the pressure of seven AC Bristols on this tight course proved too much. Lonnie Rix, Duncan Forlong, Ross Wees, Ed Rahal and David Lee followed Makins in what resembled a pack of hounds after a fox. By the 3rd lap Wees had taken over the lead, with Forlong [here in #55], Rix [#271] and Dunn all ahead of the Corvette, which was obviously in trouble. It retired on the next lap.

Wees's AC went wide and at the finish the order was Forlong, Rix and Dunn. Duncan Forlong was probably the most successful AC Bristol driver in the Southeast. He was a former brewery owner who by 1958 had branched out into paint manufacturing.
all research Willem Oosthoek-photo Lonnie Rix collection

#13 Jerry Entin

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 00:21

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Dunnellon Park,Florida - November 1958. The Le Mans start for the feature, with Lonnie in #72, Dave Lane in the #39 Maserati 200SI and Nancy Pierce in her #23 Healey. Joe Sheppard's 550 RS is speeding away on the right.

Note the unpainted rear fender of the AC. Lonnie's car suffered a snapped axle on the starting grid of his previous race, the October Autumn Festival Races at V.I.R. Unable to get away, his AC was hit from behind by Johnny Cuevas' Porsche Carrera, resulting in damage to both cars.

Fortunately, Lonnie's next flying trip was back to England, where his friends at the AC factory rolled out a fresh fender for him. Lonnie carried it back in one of the the spacious bomb bays of his airplane. Heck, a rear fender was nothing. Some airmen were known to ship entire MGAs back to the U.S. George Koehne, a fellow racer and an Air Force lieutenant-Colonel, reportedly shipped a live camel back to the U.S. while based in Morocco.
all research Willem Oosthoek-photo Lonnie Rix collection. All of the above photos were scanned for site by my brother, Dennis Entin. He has helped on all the threads I have done and this thanks is long over due.

#14 Jerry Entin

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 13:46

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The tailenders at the Dunnellon start, with an Etceterini of some sort on the left. It may have been Al Penn's Bandini.
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The gorgeous lines of Rix's AC Bristol, a true classic.
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Rix takes the checkered at Dunnellon for another win in EP and 7th overall. End result of the feature that day:
1. Lucky Casner- Ferrari 250TR
2. E.D. Martin- Ferrari 250TR
3. Roy Schechter- Porsche 550RS
4. Ed Rahal - Jag D-type
5. Dave Lane - Maserati 200SI
6. Bob Kingham - Corvette
7. Lonnie Rix - AC Bristol
8. Joe Sheppard - Porsche 550RS
research Willem Oosthoek-photos lent site- Lonnie Rix collection.

Edited by Jerry Entin, 10 January 2012 - 15:22.


#15 Jerry Entin

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 19:54

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Lonnie Rix's good friend Ed Rahal seen here in his Jaguar D-type, in grey primer coat. At Venice, Florida in October 1958. Lonnie was part of Ed Rahal's pit crew. He was also listed in the program as Rahal co-driver in this 6-hour race, but had just come back from a flight to Europe the day before the race and had no track time in the Jaguar. Lonnie was forced to drive it anyway when Rahal got soaked in fuel after a pitstop, where the gas cap was not fully locked. Rix did 4 laps while Rahal changed clothes, but the incident had cost much time and the two Savannahians finished 3rd overall.
all research Willem Oosthoek-photo lent site Lonnie Rix collection.

#16 Jerry Entin

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 23:05

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The new lightweight AC with RHD and custom top arriving at the Sebring paddock during heavy rain.
Lonnie Rix attended Sebring in 1958 as a spectator and decided he wanted to be part of the 12-hour grind. On one of his trips to England he sat down with Jock Henderson, AC's sales manager, to decide upon the specifications of a newer, lighter car for Sebring 1959. His first AC was strictly production and LHD. With the new RHD car every effort had to be made to save weight. His first car had a solid brass windshield frame, the new one would have an aluminum frame. There would be no heater, upholstery, body paint, etc. on the 1959 model, which was to be several 100 lbs lighter than his current car. Part of the deal was that, although Rix owned it, the AC would be entered as one of the works team cars.
Lonnie recalls the following specifications:
- Lightweight chassis and body, patterned after their 1958 Le Mans factory entry, RHD chassis B105.
- FIA height Perspex windshield with aluminum frame. Top and screens custom fitted to the FIA screen.
- Factory delete of the heater, defroster, interior carpets and upholstery, except a finished instrument panel and seats. Delete of body paint, putty, undercoating and sound deadener [a 70 lbs saving].
- FIA-approved 33 gallon alloy fuel tank with quick fill in the trunk.
- Driving lights behind the grill with full-width front nerf bar.
- Safety items to include a cockpit-mounted fire extinguisher, a custom rollbar with X bracing and quick-release racing belts with custom frame mounts.
- 100D2 Stage 3 Bristol engine with velocity stacks [AC called them air straighteners], engine oil cooler and gauge. Single tube exhaust in front of the right rear wheel. Dynometer tested at 140 hp at 6,500 rpm.
- Disc brakes upfront with no other chassis modifications. Option of 15" or 16" wheels.
- Instrument panel changed to include a tell-tale tachometer [7,000 Redline], oil pressure and water temp between the speedo and tach, with other switches and gauges moved around to my liking.
- Estimated FIA racing weight 1,880 lbs, including 200 lbs fuel and 150 lbs driver. SCCA racing weight under 1,650 lbs.
all research Willem Oosthoek-photo Lonnie Rix collection.

#17 Jerry Entin

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 13:43

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Here the car is in Ed Rahal's shop being worked on. Ed Rahal is the one in the hat. His shop was in Savannah, Georgia. It was located at 5 East Perry Street. The building was formerly the local Packard dealership.

Lonnie Rix knew what specs he wanted for Sebring,Florida but originally the works people were not keen on the rollbar installation and it took some convincing. In addition, the car was late being completed and by then no freighters were available to Jacksonville, to make it to the 12 Hours in time. So the AC was shipped to New York, where it arrived in February.

Unfortunately, Lonnie was in Morocco when the car landed. He arrangement for an Air Force friend to pick it up at the docks. The stripped AC --no paint, no heat, no insulation -- was driven in the heart of winter from New York to Savannah, by Lt. Paul Garmers to Ed Rahal's shop for further preparation.

At Rahal's Sports & Foreign Car Centre the AC was sparingly covered with paint and thin rubber mats were installed. The interior received a fuzzy paint job flock type.
all research Willem Oosthoek-photo lent site Lonnie Rix collection.

Edited by Jerry Entin, 06 November 2009 - 03:49.


#18 Jerry Entin

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 16:40

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Lonnie working on the AC. This is at Sebring in the County Fairgrounds Building.

Lonnie Rix's designated co-driver Ed Rahal was interviewed for the March 17, 1959, issue of the Savannah Morning News:
" We hoped it rains. By that I don't mean a downpour, but if light rains fall it will actually help us," Rahal said.

Ed Rahal also pointed out features on the AC Bristol and the type of tires they will use that will actually outperform the bigger cars in rainy weather. The AC will run a French make of tire. The tire is made of three layers of steel fabric and one layer of textile. The tires will run with Nitrogen instead of air to keep down heat.
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Work being done on the AC.

The car is equipped well -- even a drinking fountain. Behind the driver are two thermos bottles with drinking tubes to help wash away dust and dirt. The sharp little AC Bristol the pair will drive is powered by a 140-horsepower six-cylinder engine. "This engine is one that is not supposed to work, but it does a darn good job," Rahal joked. His statement was tagged on because of its unusual design. The engine design -- unchanged for the last 20 years, uses twelve push rods -- six vertical and six horizontal. The car's top speed is 135 mph. Factory built for racing, it is equipped with aluminum brakes on the rear wheels and disc brakes on the front wheels. The body is also aluminum. If everything goes as planned Rahal and Rix, along with their pit crew, will leave for Sebring tonight. Practice runs are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, and for a few hours Friday night. Working on the pit crew will be Major C. Johnson of the Beaufort Air Station, Gilbert Johnson of Savannah, Lt. Paul Garmers of Hunter Field, Rolla Wilhoit and Dave Newton.
all research Willem Oosthoek-photo Lonnie Rix collection

Edited by Jerry Entin, 10 January 2012 - 15:27.


#19 Jerry Entin

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 20:25

Ed Rahal hoped for rain and it sure came. Soon after the AC team moved into a rental home near Sebring, a cold front moved into Central Florida, dumping inches of rain. Cars started practice on Wednesday under hazardous conditions, after 48 hours of continuous precipitation water-logged the track. Lap times became meaningless. On Thursday practice was cancelled after 90 minutes.

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Because of the practice delays, Lonnie Rix took his lightweight AC out to find somewhere to eat. Mechanic Gilbert Johnson was at the wheel during the downpour. They were heading South on the highway, when a pick-up truck ahead of them made a sudden left turn. The brand new AC broadsided the truck and was completely destroyed, Gilbert Johnson lost his life, while Lonnie escaped with various bruises.
all research Willem Oosthoek-photo Lonnie Rix collection.

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#20 Jerry Entin

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 22:30

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Here is the article out of the paper about the above wreck.

#21 HistoricMustang

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 22:42

Joel, several more venues we need to visit so close to our homes! Are you ready to load up for a road trip with the girls? :wave:

Thanks Jerry!

Henry

#22 Lotus23

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 23:30

Yes, Henry, I'm really enjoying this thread! A few observations:

-- a year or two ago, someone on TNF was seeking details on the circumstances surrounding Gilbert Johnson's death. At that time, Lonnie's name came up, but no one knew how to find him.

-- the original flimsy-looking roll bar in the earlier photos of Lonnie's AC was the factory-approved one. I had a good Army buddy who ran his '60 AC Bristol in France in '60-'62, and his unbraced roll bar was identical. In those days, no one was overly concerned re its actual function. Lonnie was wise to install something sturdier.

-- the frustrations of attempting to follow one's racing passion while simultaneously satisfying Uncle Sam's demands come flooding back with Lonnie's story. I can really relate. F'r instance, I had a "potential world beater" built to Euro GT racing specs in time for the '63 season there, only to get orders sending me -- and the p.w.b. -- back to the States, where it proved to be horribly outclassed in SCCA C Prod. The term "needs of the service" was frequently invoked!

Thanks, Jerry, for Lonnie's fascinating story. I look forward to more!

Joel

#23 Jerry Entin

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 23:43

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Some detailed shots of Lonnie's wrecked $5,500 lightweight AC Bristol, after it was hauled back to Ed Rahal's shop in Savannah,Georgia after Sebring 1959.

George Avent, a fellow SCCA racer and the Pepsi-Cola bottler for South Carolina, had loaned Lonnie most of the money, so there were financial implications for a First Lieutenant on a fixed salary. Before Sebring, Rahal's insurance agent had put a binder on the car, but the transaction was done verbally. When Rix put in his claim, suddenly there wasn't any record whatsoever at the insurance company. Fortunately, in the end Lonnie recuperated most of his loss -- thanks to being a government employee -- from a government insurance company that reimbursed for purchases damaged within 90 days of purchase. It would take a month of negotiating.
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Eventually the body and chassis of the lighweight were junked, while the engine and gearbox were sold to someone in Toronto.
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However, in spite of the devastating loss of life and equipment two days before the 12 Hours, there was a race to be run. In addition to the lightweight, Lonnie had also brought his old AC to Sebring, which he planned to sell to Gene Young, a Florida Navy Officer who raced a Turner. While Lonnie recuperated from his injuries, the older AC was prepared to substitute for the lightweight, under the same race number 23 and still part of the AC works team.
all research Willem Oosthoek.-photos Lonnie Rix collection

#24 Lotus23

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 23:59

Jerry, George Avent and I got to be pretty good buddies when we were competitors in our 23s several years later. George was a good driver and a nice guy. I do recall that his financial resources as a Pepsi distributor far outweighed mine as a 1LT!

#25 Jerry Entin

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Posted 01 September 2007 - 00:38

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George Avent in his Begra Sports racer. Car ran a Fiat 750 twin cam engine
Joel: George Avent also raced a Begra sports racer in HM in 1962 and also in later years. In 1963 he was the HM South East Champion in his Begra Mk 3. Which in later years merged with Beach.
Photo lent site Nick England

#26 Alan Cox

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Posted 01 September 2007 - 21:59

The fascinating narrative continues.... You and your fellow contributors can certainly put together some superb histories, Jerry. Thanks to all concerned.

#27 Jerry Entin

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Posted 01 September 2007 - 22:13

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Lonnie's old AC had plenty of mileage on it, plus a slipping clutch. On the plus side, it had new disc brakes installed. With Lonnie Rix in no condition to take the Le Mans start, it was decided that Rahal would do the sprinting.

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The other Sebring ACs entered by the factory:#24 to be driven by Archie Means, Charlie Kurtz and Ross Wees
#25 to be driven by Bobby Burns, Roy Jackson-Moore and Jim Cook.
On the right is the #26 Factory Arnold-Bristol Bolide for Max Goldman, Wacky Arnolt and Ralph Durbin.

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Another shot of the line-up. Next to the Arnolt-Bristol is the Lotus 15/Climax of Bill Entwistle and Robert Hanna, then the works Porsche Carrera of Huschke von Hanstein and Carel Godin de Beaufort.

Alan: I know you will enjoy the cars that are coming on this site.

all research Willem Oosthoek-photos Lonnie Rix Collection.

#28 Jerry Entin

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Posted 02 September 2007 - 12:41

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Ed Rahal at speed on the front straight, before the rain returned.

Rahal took the start at 10 AM and alternated with Lonnie Rix every 20 laps. After two hours their AC was leading EP class, almost a lap ahead of its nearest competitor. Two hours later a fuel line broke. Their lead was lost in the subsequent pitstop for repairs. Around 8:30 PM more trouble developed when a tie rod broke. The team did not have a spare and a replacement was taken from an AC in the paddock. Its owner was unknown at the time but the item was returned after the race. This time the repairs took 17 minutes, a deficit impossible to make up in the remaining time. The #23 AC finished 24th overall, 3rd in class with 158 laps. The AC team cars finished first and second in class: #25 14th overall with 164 laps and #24 22th overall with 159 laps.

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Early pitstop for repairs. Ed Rahal is behind the wheel while Lonnie Rix is checking under the hood.
all research Willem Oosthoek-photos Lonnie Rix collection.

#29 HistoricMustang

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Posted 02 September 2007 - 15:12

Originally posted by Jerry Entin

Some detailed shots of Lonnie's wrecked $5,500 lightweight AC Bristol, after it was hauled back to Ed Rahal's shop in Savannah,Georgia after Sebring 1959.


Can anyone provide an address for this shop? Would like to stop by for a photograph.

Henry

#30 Jerry Entin

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Posted 02 September 2007 - 18:34

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The Rahal premises at 5 East Perry Street, Savannah, Georgia in 1956, showing the three new Arnolt-Bristols of the Savannah Sports Car Club.
From left, team members Tom Waring, Ed Rahal, John Rueter, Harry Harkins and Robert Roebling, the sponsor of the cars. Roebling's great-grandfather built the Brooklyn Bridge.
all research Willem Oosthoek- photo Ed Rahal collection

#31 Jerry Entin

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Posted 02 September 2007 - 18:46

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The AC works team with the silver, having finished 1-2-3 in class at Sebring. From the left:

Roy Jackson-Moore and Jim Cook [1st in class], team managers Bill and Alice Woodbury [also Long island-based AC importers], Lonnie Rix [3rd], Archie Means [2nd] and Ed Rahal [3rd with Rix].
all research Willem Oosthoek-photo Lonnie Rix collection.

#32 HistoricMustang

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Posted 02 September 2007 - 21:45

Originally posted by Jerry Entin

The Rahal premises at 5 East Perry Street, Savannah, Georgia in 1956, showing the three new Arnolt-Bristols of the Savannah Sports Car Club.


Thanks Jerry, according to a view at Mapquest the building appears to still be in place. Am unable to access Google Earth. Perhaps another member can view and post.

Will pay a vist on my next trip to Savannah.

Henry

#33 Jerry Entin

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Posted 02 September 2007 - 22:30

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The spoils of success. Obviously the Sebring performances were used to promote the various models offered by AC Cars Ltd.
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Advertising the way they did it in the late 50's.
photos Lonnie Rix collection

#34 Jerry Entin

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Posted 03 September 2007 - 16:11

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This is one good looking car. John Tojeiro had the right idea on design.
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Another very nice view of this great looking car.

Several months after the demise of Lonnie's lightweight AC at Sebring in 1959, the AC factory offered Lonnie a rare 1958 Tojeiro, here photographed in front of the works at High Street, Thames Ditton. The car was offered without engine and gearbox, still owned by Bristol. The price was fair and since Lonnie had salvaged the lightweight's Bristol engine and gearbox, he was tempted. In the end he did not buy the Tojeiro. Rix wanted to win races and a Tojeiro/Bristol would have been uncompetitive in E-Modified. Today he is sorry, since the car would have been perfect for vintage racing.
all research Willem Oosthoek- photos Lonnie Rix collection.

#35 Jerry Entin

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Posted 03 September 2007 - 17:13

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The Tojeiro as viewed from the back.
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Here is a view of the engine area of the Tojeiro.
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Rearend assembly of the car.

I hope after looking at these pictures that Forum members will get a copy of fellow forum member Graham Gauld's great book."TOJ"- John Tojeiro and his Cars. John made some beautiful cars and I know Graham's book is very well done.
above photos-Lonnie Rix collection

#36 Jerry Entin

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Posted 03 September 2007 - 18:55

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Lonnie Rix's next competition car was Italian: a 1957 Osca Tipo S with 1.5-liter engine. Its body was clad by the Morelli brothers. Chassis 1183, with engine 1535, came with an interesting history.

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The girl with the red outfit is Isabel Haskell, attending to her Siata. The photo was taken at Coffeyville, Kansas, in May 1955.

Lonnie's S 1500 was bought new by Isabel Haskell. Haskell came from the Red Bank, New Jersey, banking family that wrestled control of General Motors from William Durant. Money was no object when Isabel grew up and she started racing in 1953. Her first car was a Siata bought from Briggs Cunningham, with its 750 cc Crosley engine soon replaced by a 1,100 cc Fiat unit. Isabel' s first Sebring came in 1955. The Siata was followed by a 150S Maserati bought in September 1955 and raced at Sebring in 1956.

all research Willem Oosthoek-photo Lonnie Rix collection.

#37 Jerry Entin

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Posted 03 September 2007 - 21:12

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View of engine in Lonnie Rix's OSCA

Before Lonnie Rix had this car, Isabel Haskell's first race with the Osca came in Buenos Aires in 1957. It was with her future husband Alejandro de Tomaso. They won 1st in class. De Tomaso shared the S 1500 with Sergio Mantovani at the Nurburgring in 1957 and ran it solo at Portogallo. Isabel Haskell was back at the wheel in the 1957 Swedish GP, with Alejandro de Tomaso. In 1958 she finished 3rd in class at Spa after which she raced various other Oscas. At Spa in 1959 she finished 2nd overall in Lonnie's future car.

all research Willem Oosthoek-photo lent site Lonnie Rix collection.

#38 Jerry Entin

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 23:08

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Lonnie Rix on his way to a fine second place finish in his OSCA at Fernandina Beach, Florida races.

Isabel Haskell sold her Osca S 1500 to George Koehne in 1959. Koehne was a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Air Force, stationed in Homestead, Florida. He and his wife Jeff were enthusiastic SCCA racers. Jeff came from a wealthy oil family and George used to say that his salary as a squadron leader was just enough to pay for their income taxes.

By 1959 Koehne and his fast cars and motorcycles had caused so much trouble with the Miami authorities that the Air Force shipped him off to Morocco. George had hoped to race his Osca in Casablanca, but the local club turned it down as being too fast for the local competition. Instead, he shipped out a double-bubble Fiat Abarth 750 and offered the Osca to Rix.

In early June 1959 Lonnie borrowed a trailer from Ed Rahal and collected the Osca at Bob Schroeder's shop in Dallas. In his first race with the car, at Fernandina Beach in Florida, he finished 2nd overall behind Joe Sheppard's Porsche 550RS. On July 18 Lonnie took the Osca to first overall at Dunnellon Park.

all research Willem Oosthoek-photo Lonnie Rix collection.

#39 Jerry Entin

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 18:34

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Dunnellon Park, July 1959: Lonnie's victorious Osca taken before the feature.

One month after winning at Dunnellon, Lonnie Rix was reassigned again by his employer. His new location became Plattsburgh Air Force Base in Upstate New York. It allowed him to race his Osca in SCCA events in the Northeast. Military flying prevented him from participating in the Watkins Glen National in September, but he managed to be present in the October Regionals at Thompson and Lime Rock [2nd in class], both in Connecticut. At the end of the month Lonnie showed up at St. Eugene near Montreal, where he won 1st overall after setting a new lap record. The season ended with a 2nd overall at Marlboro, Maryland, in November 1959.

all research Willem Oosthoek-photo Jeff Allison.

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#40 Jerry Entin

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 20:59

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Lonnie Rix as he looks today, retired and enjoying this site. Lonnie is very happy that the forum members are enjoying seeing his cars from his youth. And the events he ran in.

In 1960 Lonnie raced the Osca to a second place at Marlboro in January and entered the Montgomery, NY, National. However, flying kept him from racing and during the summer the Osca engine was dismantled and never raced again. Rix ran a few races in Canada in 1960, aboard an Alfa-Romeo Giulietta sponsored by a dealership in Montreal.
He subsequently got married and quit racing. He moved back to Savannah, running a business upgrading English cars. Later in his career he became the partner in a successful Nissan dealership in Miami. Lonnie retired in 1998.

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Lonnie's Old buddy and co-driver Ed Rahal as he looks today. Also retired and still living in Savannah, Georgia.

all research Willem Oosthoek-photo of Lonnie- Lonnie Rix collection.
photo Ed Rahal- Willem Oosthoek.

#41 scags

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 22:52

Jerry, is Ed Rahal related to Bobby?

#42 Jerry Entin

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 23:17

Scags: Read post 6 on this site. Ed and Bobby's father Mike are cousins.

#43 wolf sun

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 23:42

Absolutely fascinating stuff once again, Jerry :up: :up: :up:


PS - I still canĀ“t talk you into writing or compiling a book, can I?

;)

#44 Jerry Entin

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Posted 07 September 2007 - 00:16

Wolf Sun: I am glad you have enjoyed reading this site. Lonnie Rix was very kind to loan his collection of racing pictures to the forum members to view. And this site couldn't have been possible without the research of Willem Oosthoek. I am not a writer. I enjoy putting up the pictures and stories for others to enjoy.

#45 Jerry Entin

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Posted 09 September 2007 - 23:31

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Another close-up of Lonnie's 1.5-liter Osca engine. No time for cosmetics, just used for racing as frequently as possible.

Photo taken at Dunnellon in 1959 by Jeff Allison, Jeff is the current editor of Prancing Horse, the U.S. Ferrari Club magazine.
photo Jeff Allison.

#46 Lotus23

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Posted 12 September 2007 - 00:23

Time has certainly treated Lonnie kindly: he doesn't look much different than when I last saw him over 40 years ago.

Anyone, like Lonnie, who can maintain both his hairline and his waistline into his seventies is fortunate indeed! (Would that I could say the same!)

#47 iharos

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Posted 12 September 2007 - 07:19

Wonderful story. Thank you Jerry, Willem and Lonnie

#48 ReWind

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Posted 13 September 2007 - 21:01

Originally posted by scags
Is Ed Rahal related to Bobby?

Something about Ed Rahal.

#49 Jerry Entin

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Posted 14 September 2007 - 13:41

Rewind: Nice article but there are a few things wrong with what the writer has said:
Calling Ed Rahal "The Dale Earnhardt of his day" isn't true, unless he meant they were both very colorful. Ed was never the rough driver that Earnhardt was in oval racing. Rahal may have been aggressive, but his racing was always clean, giving his competitors plenty of room. The journalist also misrepresents the range of cars Rahal drove during his career, which varied from MG-TD to XK-120, Arnolt-Bristol to AC Bristol and Shelby Cobra, Lancia Aurelia to D-type Jag and Maserati 200SI.
all research Willem Oosthoek

#50 RTH

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Posted 14 September 2007 - 13:53

Great photographs Jerry .