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James Edward Haynes

LAKEVILLE — James Edward Haynes was born April 24, 1933,  in Port Huron Michigan, and died March 2, 2023, in Tampa, Florida.

At Port Huron High, Jim not only excelled academically, but was an accomplished athlete, participating in baseball, football, swimming and wrestling. He was accepted to Yale University. After graduating with a B.S. in Industrial Administration in 1955, Jim went to work for IBM in Poughkeepsie and New York City as a Methods Analyst.

Already interested in auto racing, Jim began competing as a driver in various races, winning the 1959 SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) National Champion Formula III event. He also won the SCCA National Champion Formula Junior race in 1963. Since IBM would not allow employees to compete professionally, Jim raced under the name “Eddie James.”

He left IBM in 1960 to form Lakeville Precision Molding in Lakeville, which he sold in 1964. Car racing had become one of Jim’s primary passions, so when the opportunity arose, he bought controlling interest in Lime Rock Park, a beautiful natural-terrain road racing venue in nearby Lime Rock. He successfully ran the track until its sale in 1984.

A seminal event in Jim’s always colorful life occurred in March 1978. He was asked to come to Florida to help revive the “Twelve Hours of Sebring” race that had been dormant for several years. He managed to get the track up to code to qualify as a sanctioned race. At the event itself, the catering for the corporate tents was being provided by Toni Abercrombie’s business, “Eat Your Heart Out.” They met and, as they say, the rest is history. As Jim would proudly say, “Toni has been my 4th wife for 43 years.”

After Lime Rock Park, they moved to Denver where Jim was Vice President of Special Projects with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). Later (in 1988) Jim became CEO and General Manager of Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin., where he stayed until retirement in 2000.

Jim was active in the Rotary Club for over 25 years, serving as President in Salisbury, and named a Paul Harris Fellow in 1985. In both Connecticut and Wisconsin, he served as President or Member of the Board of Directors in the Chamber of Commerce.

In addition to Jim’s passions for Toni and vintage car racing, he also loved to fish and traveled the world to do so. Adventures included the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Pacific coast off Cabo San Lucas, the coast of Maui, the River Shannon in Ireland, Sail fishing off Palm Beach and many years in the Keys aboard his and his brother’s sport fisherman, “The Moonraker.”

Jim was the personification of a man who lived the life he wanted to live. He lived large. He was a voracious reader, particularly of mysteries, loved good food and not so good wine, unless one considers Corbett Canyon box wine a “good chardonnay.”

He is survived by his wife Toni Abercrombie Haynes, four children and nine grandchildren and brother, Alex. Rest in peace, Big Jim, we love you.

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