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by Tony Adamowicz


REFLECTIONS on 2008
Formula 5000 40th vintage reunion events with RIAM


2008 marked an important Milestone for RIAM and my ‘ole 1969 Continental Championship winning Gurney Eagle. After a long dedicated process of restoration, Thanks to Doug Magnon, new owner along with Bill Losee, chief project mechanic and in house fabricator and UK transplant Morris Jephcott the Gurney Eagle, chassis number 510 was ready to fly.

Our initial testing at Willow Springs raceway showed us we still need additional work on the Eagle to improve reliability. The overall testing was a success, leading us into new areas of improvement and refinement of the Eagle. Our Championship Winning Eagle was picked to be the Official poster child of the 40 th F-5000 Reunion.

The First inaugural event took place at the Wine Country Classic Infineon Raceway, Sonoma, Ca. May 31-Jun 1st. This represented the very first time the public got to view our Championship Gurney Eagle since the last race at Sebring, Fl. 1969. What an awesome turnout of fine F 5000 period racing cars, Eagles, McLaren’s, McKee’s, March, Crossele, Chevron, Lola’s, Surtees, McRay, Talon, LeGrand, Leda. This impressive array of cars were on display in the F5000 section for all the public to enjoy along with some of the original cast of F 5000 drivers of the day, including George Folmer, Eric Haga, Scooter Patrick, Davey Jordan, John Morton, Elliot Forbes Robinson, Jim Dittmore, Dave Wolin, Rex Ramsey, Barry Blackmore, Michael Brayton, Jim Law, just to mention a few greats, including your truly, the a2z Racer. The first F 5000 40th reunion was an overwhelming success for the teams and public alike. RIAM team managed to have a podium 3rd place finish with our Gurney Eagle, despite some gearbox shifting problems during the race. The class win was Bruce Leeson in his McLaren 1969 M10B and 2nd place going to Steve Davis in his 1969 Mk 5 Eagle.
Next on the F 5000 tour was the Kohler International Challenge at Road America, Elkhart Lake Wisconsin July 17th – 20th. This premier 4-mile racetrack has hosted many winners of the day including our 69 Championship Eagle that won the overall 3 – 100 mile heat races. It would be a tall order for us to do the same, however we had made considerable improvements in our Gurney Eagle. The F 5000 cars and teams endured tornado winds and rains that blasted through the pit area, knocking down and shredding industrial tents, that had to be replaced before the weekend would start. Most all survived with minor damage, we encountered much of the gusting rain that shorted out our magneto, causing us to lose out to valuable practice sessions.

New competitors appeared on the scene with additional new chassis like the Surtees, Shadow, Theodore, Chinook, and Lotus. Also on the scene were new / old F 5000 drivers of the day to join the cast of characters today. Familiar names like Brian Redman, Sam Posey, Lou Sell, Bob McKee, Kurt Reinold, Kurt Ingelmann, to mention a few. Saturday evening, the F 5000 association with the aide of Seb Coppola, Mark Harmer and Bruce Leeson, provided a once in a lifetime dinner and live entertainment with the infamous and famed

Rock and Roll band, “ The Neeley Brothers “. The live entertainment proceeded into the evening until the wine and beer final ran out. The paddock was alive with their 50’ through the 80’s music that was fitting end to a great day of celebration.
Amongst all of the official and non-official guests was my ole friend Peter Bryant, You might recall the name related in designing the Ti22 Titanium Mk1- Mk2- Can Am cars and the Shadow Mk 2-3. He has a very entertaining book called the Can Am Challenger, certainly worth the read to bring home the Can Am era. We were signing autographs together when he asked how it was going with the Gurney Eagle. I indicated we had lost valuable track time and we were behind the eight ball, Peter being the cockney humored guy that he is, said “how can I help”? I introduced Peter to Doug Magnon and Bill Losee and we proceeded to put our heads together regarding set up, etc. After spring and shock changes, alignment and wing adjustment we had managed to gain nine seconds in our lap times.

The race started with a vote confidence for me, that we could actually win the race at RA once again. While running a strong second in the race with five laps to go we encountered a rear brake caliper failure at 173 mph approaching 40 mph right hand Canada Corner. Fortunately we made it through unscathed, however the race was over for us. Mark Harmer of the Monoposto Group handedly won 1st place with his Surtees TS5, the same car I ran against with David Hobbs driving back in 1969. 2nd place was Paul Dudiack in his 1969 McKee Mk 12C and 3rd was Mike Knittel in his 1970 Chinook.

Last race on the F 5000 tour was the SVRV Vintage Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, N.Y. September 4th – 7th. The Watkins Glen GP track has traditionally been a challenge for the best GP drivers and cars. Once again some new / old faces showed up on the scene with the likes of Graham McRay 1972 F 5000 U.S. Champion and winner of the Tasman series championship, Warrick Brown 1975 F 5000 Tasman series Champion and Brian Redman 1974-1976 F 5000 US Champion. None of these drivers would be actually driving this weekend, for this I was much relieved.

The RIAM team had done considerable prep on our Gurney Eagle, while the car was at Indy, with Bill Losee and the added assistance of Peter Bryant. It looked like we would finally be ready to kick butt at the Glen, however this was not to be the case. After a few laps we encountered a driveline failure that would require two days of scurrying around machine shops and making a new trans adaptation. We had loss valuable track time and qualifying and were faced starting the race cold back in 13th place. Shortly into the race we lost the use of 3rd gear, putting us at a distinct disadvantage with lap times. Relegated to 4th and 5th gear only, we soldiered on to finish fourth place. 1st Place went to Steve Davis in a Gurney Eagle, 2nd place went to Mark Harmer in a Surtees, 3rd place went to Bruce Leeson in a McLaren. Steve Davis also won the series Championship in a 1969 Gurney Eagle Mk 5 similar to our Gurney Eagle.

The weekend was not a complete loss, the F5000 association in partnership with Vintage Motorsports magazine awarded Lifetime Achievement Awards to Graham McRay, Warrick Brown, Brian Redman and yours truly for my 1969 US Continental Championship, the only time it was won by an American and of course we won with American built All American Racer Gurney Eagle.

Look for the RIAM team to be very competitive in the 2009 F 5000 series. This will mark my actual 40th Reunion in the Gurney Eagle. It is our goal to win the Championship and provide the entertainment for new vintage fans to enjoy F 5000 Historic Racing cars.


Please join me and many other veteran drivers at "Legends of Riverside" March 27 to 29 at RIAM!

Tony "a2z" Adamowicz

1969 Championship Winning Eagle
Tony "a2z" putting #510 to its paces at Watkins Glen, Septermber 2008

Tony gets the jump on the competition at Road America!

Steve Davis, Bruce Leeson, and Tony "a2z" (l to r) celebrate job well done!


Formula F5000 Multi-Media:

On Board Video at Sear's Point, 2008

More Sear's Point Wine Country Classic 2008

1971 Questor Grand Prix

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3