My Formula 5000
Tony Adamowicz
photo & profile 1974
Los Angeles, Calif.
Age: 32
Date
Event
#
Car
Finish
1969
Laguna Seca
7
Eagle Mk 5
 
1969
?
7
Eagle Mk 5
 
1971
Questor
Grand Prix
34
Lola T192
 
1973
Mighigan
73
Lola T330
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Nearly everyone who was old enough to understand what happened
that day remembers what he was doing when President John Kennedy
was shot to death in downtown Dallas.
  But, for race car driver Tony Adamowicz, the shots fired almost 10
years ago altered the course of his life.  Adamowicz, now one of
America’s leading international road racers and driver of the Carling
Black Label Lola in the L&M Championship series, was a young Army
communications specialist. He was assigned to the White House during
the Kennedy years and says he might still be there if the assassination
had not occurred.
  “Those were great years under Kennedy,” says the 33-year-old-
bachelor, who how lives in California. “I never thought about doing
anything else. There was no reason to think beyond what I was doing.”
   Adamowicz, a former winner of the L&M Championship, began his
White House service late in Eisenhower’s second administration. He left
soon after Lyndon Johnson took over, but Kennedy was the only
President he worked with whom he knew on a personal basis.
  “They (Eisenhower and Johnson) just weren’t the sort of personalities
you could get close to,” Adamowicz says. “Kennedy was. He wanted to
know everybody who was around, the custodians, the gardeners,
people like me.”
   Adamowicz went on most of Kennedy’s trips, but says he really
became close with the President during retreats to Camp David in
Maryland.
  “He liked to take walks and just talk about things like hobbies,”
Adamowicz says. “His thing was boats and sailing and mine was racing.  
He didn’t know very much about the sport but he asked a lot of
questions. He was always interested in what other people were doing”.
  On November 23, 1963, Adamowicz and others on the
communications staff at the White House were in Texas setting up
telephones, radios and teletype gear at the LBJ ranch for a big press
function later that day. “We were not prepared for what happened,
obviously,” he recalls. “We were numb.”
  As for Adamowicz personally, interest in a government career
vanished in Dallas.
   “After that, everything was kind of a long downer,” Adamowicz says. “I
couldn’t face reality, couldn’t face people or anything. Racing was one
good way of forgetting.”
  Adamowicz received his discharge from the Army in 1964 and left
Washington looking for a way to make a living with race cars. To that
point, he had only competed in amateur races near the capital and
says he had never considered anything bigger than that before.
  After several years of semi-professional racing, notably with the
Group 44 team in national championship competition, Tony hooked up
with Connecticut businessman Marv Davidson for a try at the highly
competitive Trans-American Championship. Adamowicz and mechanic
Mac Tilton drove their Porsche 911 on the highway from race to race,
unheard of in this highly professional series. They had a colossal year,
winning six races, taking second place twice and setting five lap
records. They won the Trans-Am Championship for under-2-liter cars
for Porsche in 1968.
   Davidson moved on to the professional series for Formula 5000 cars
in 1969, then called the SCCA Continental Championship, He bought a
new Eagle from Dan Gurney for Adamowicz to drive.
  It was the first time Adamowicz had driven anything other than closed
cars, but Adamowicz won two races and edged out Englishman David
Hobbs by one point to win the championship in a furiously competitive
series. That was the last time an American won the series.         
“A funny thing happened on my way from the championship,” says
Adamowicz. “Davidson decided to pull out of racing but my momentum
gave me a couple of good opportunities — and they very surprisingly
fell through. The defending champion and nothing good enough to
defend with.”
  A good shot at the Indy 500 did come through.  Adamowicz qualified
for the field but officials erred in slowing him down one lap. His time was
just poor enough to get him bumped on the final qualifying weekend.
  Adamowicz launched himself into the World Manufacturers’
Championship races in Europe, South Africa and the United States an
interim career that was to span the next three seasons. He drove
Ferraris, Corvettes, Porsches and Mirages to a series of high finishes
including second place in the Daytona 24-hours, third place in the Le
Mans 24 hours, and fourth place in Johannesburg, He had occasional
Trans-Am rides in a Dodge, a Javelin and an Alfa Romeo. The
Canadian-American Challenge Cup saw the Polish-American driver
finish seventh overall in 1971 driving a Jerobee McLaren in just six of
the 11 events.
  Ironically, Adamowicz had become as well known by this time as a co-
founder of the Polish Racing Drivers of America, a tongue in cheek
organization formed with Oscar Koveleski and Brad Niemcek.
  Adamowicz’ achievements as an endurance driver in Manufacturers’
Championship races were recognized when he was granted ‘graded
driver status’ by the FIA, world motorsports authority. The international
honor is shared by just four other Americans, Mario Andretti, Al Unser
and Peter Revson.
  Had he lived, Adamowicz says, John Kennedy would understand that
Tony A-to-Z thinks quite a bit of that.

                                         
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REFLECTIONS on 2008  
Formula 5000 40th vintage
reunion events with RIAM
by Tony Adamowicz
Black Label Racing Team
Tony Adamowicz
Sam Posey in front  Tony, right rear.