American racing driver Tony Adamowicz (above, third from left) has passed away at the age of 75. Over an accomplished career, he drove just about every type of car imaginable in every type of race imaginable. From Dodge Challengers in Trans-Am to Greenwood Corvettes at Daytona to Ferraris at Le Mans, Adamowicz truly lived up to his nickname, Tony A2Z. As this Autoweek (which Adamowicz wrote for) article recounts, he even came in second in the 1971 Cannonball Run driving a Chevy van crammed with 55-gallon fuel drums, finishing just 20 minutes behind Dan Gurney in a Ferrari.
Beginning in the late 70s, though, and through the twilight years of his career, Adamowicz delivered several historic wins for Nissan’s US efforts.
Adamowicz joined Electramotive Racing — co-founded by our friend John Knepp and Don Devendorf and always — in 1979, driving the team’s iconic red, blue and white IMSA Datsun 280ZX to a GTU championship. And as the car’s turbo inline-6 was developed from 580 to 700 horsepower, it grew into a real threat to the then-dominant Porsches 935. “It became an infamous competitor, challenging the twin turbo Porsche cars in the later races,” Adamowicz recounted on his A2ZRacer site, “Oh what fun it was to do that!”
Electramotive went on to win the 1982 GTO championship too, helped no less by Adamowicz charging from last to second (but with enough points to win overall) in the final race of the season.
Beyond racing, Adamowicz led an truly interesting life. Before he made a living out of driving, he worked as a White House communications aide to three US Presidents: Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and LBJ. After retirement from racing, he wrote for Autoweek, as mentioned above. In 2015, Adamowicz was diagnosed with brain cancer and passed away on October 10.