A2Z and #1
(Photo credit to Dave Nadig: Tony won 6 out of 10 Trans-Am races in 1968)
The racing stories from the early days of SCCA Trans-Am and amateur B-Sedan racing never fail to impress me. One driver in particular, Tony Adamowicz and his team Milestone Racing owned by Marvin Davidson, are a great example of the determination and ingenuity it took to win against all odds. And win they did in 1968 while campaigning a Porsche 911. That year, he and the team would beat Porsche factory teams and go on to win 6 out of 10 races, finish2nd in two others, and set 5 new lap records. 1968 culminated in winning the U2L Trans-Am B-Sedan Championship and being crowned Driver of The Year, beating out the great Mark Donahue. Fun facts: Tony was referred to by fellow racers and race fans as ‘Tony A2Z’, the latter an abbreviation of his Polish last name. Also, the team derived their name from a milestone marker on route 7 outside the Sunoco gas station in Wilton, CT where the team was headquartered.
Tony was born May 2nd, 1941 and passed on October 10th, 2016. Prior to his amateur racing, Adamowicz was a communication staffer in the JFK and LBJ administrations. It was during the Eisenhower administration that he started his amateur racing in a Lotus Cortina, a Volvo PV 544, and then a Triumph Spitfire. He and Bob Tillius, driving a Dodge Dart, finished 1st in the over 2.0 Liter class and 2nd overall in the first SCCA Trans-Am race at Sebring in 1966. But it was the 1968 racing season that put Tony on the podium for good.
(Photo courtesy of Gary Wheeler: 1968 Trans-Am Driver of the Year, a Heuer watch advertisement)
I obtained the following information on Tony and his Porsche race car from my good friend Mark Allen of Vintage Excellence, a Porsche Specialty shop in Vista, Ca:
In 1968 Tony and his team found a wrecked 1968 Porsche 912 chassis in a junkyard. They prepped the car as a lightweight 911 race car for the upcoming Trans-Am series of 1968. At this time there were almost no racing parts for the Porsche 911 and almost no 911s had competed in racing so development of proven race winning setups was not known. The team decided on 15x7 American Racing Torque Thrust wheels with the same tires found on Shelby GT350s because of their availability where the races were held. They built their 2.0L engine into a 906 spec 210hp engine but with a set of over-bored Solex Carburetors because the Solex had 3 straight intake runners whereas the Weber had angled outside runners which were not as efficient. Tony needed to get in front of the giant engine 5.0L cars immediately as the race started so he needed full power as soon as possible. In coordination with Porsche, they acquired an experimental 5:29 ring and pinion which dramatically increased the revs across the board - the pinion crown was so small that it had to be cooled by oil squirters and a transmission oil cooling system was installed in the back seat. The transmission shafts were polished so that gears could be swapped out easily at any time (Tony wanted to dial in the gearing specific to every track). For brakes, the team had adapted the new 908 alloy calipers which later became 911S calipers. A large amount of stiffening went into the chassis and suspension components.
Below you can see the Solex carburetors in race trim. As was mentioned earlier, Tony and team were the only racers in the Trans-Am series who ran Solex Carburetors instead of the more commonly found Weber carbs. If Tony would have known how much Solex carbs are worth today, he probably would have bought as many as he could!
(Photo credit to Gary Wheeler)
(Photo credit Gary Wheeler: Tony leads Bert Evert in a factory lightweight #14 at Bridghampton)
In an interview posted on www.a2zracer.com, Tony recants the growing pains of the 1968 season: “Sebring was the first race for the new 911, and we DNF'd with a blown motor. We were running the standard tachometer that was not calibrated, so were consistently over revving the engine. At this discovery, we converted to a cable driven Moroso Tach with rev limiter. Our performance was obviously impressive, as Porsche's team manager, Baron Von Hanstein, made a special trip across town, searching us out at our motel to complement us.”
The old Milestone team: Tony Adamowicz, Don Bressler, and Mac Tilton came back together to re-create this very car the exact same way they built the original (The builder was Marc Zurlinden of https://www.zurlindenllc.com ). It was completed around 2008 and is a faithful rebuild of the 1968 Trans-Am champion. The original car was last seen SCCA racing in the 70’s but it is believed to have been scrapped. Per Mark Allen, the #7 tribute Porsche 911 has seen light vintage racing and exhibition. The engine has been removed and fully rebuilt as of June 2020 and it can be used in vintage racing as-is with very little prep. The chassis is a 1968 912 with a title. You can find the 911 racecar for sale at https://vintageexcellence.com/1968-trans-am-u27
Additionally, you can read Tony's take on the story by visiting his website which is still up and running: http://www.a2zracer.com
(The photos above are from the Historic Races held on Coronado Island in 2016)
(Dave Nadig photo of Tony Adamowicz 1968 U2L Champion)