Total Recall: My First Le Mans  by Tony Adamowicz

      In June of 1970, the anticipation of racing at Le Mans for the first time was slightly overwhelming. After all, to compete in this classic race had been one of my major goals, and here I was moments away from boarding a plane at Los Angeles International for a flight to Paris. After takeoff, I settled in for a nap, but instead I ended up reflecting on the events that had brought me to this point in my life.

     At Daytona, our NART team came 4th and 5th overall, and 1st and 2nd in class, Mike and Sam finishing 15 laps ahead of David and me. So my first association with Ferrari had been moderately successful.  While I had been paired with Piper before at Daytona, and also at the Monza 1000 km in a Porsche 917, my co-driver for Le Mans would be Chuck Parsons of Can-Am fame.

      When the plane landed in Paris, no one was more anxious to get through customs and pick up a rental car than me, and in short order I was headed toward the Sarthe. After checking in at the hotel where the NART team was staying in downtown Le Mans, I drove a few miles south to the circuit.  The first practice session would not be held until the following afternoon, so I took the opportunity to drive around the parts of the track that went on public roads, and to walk the section between the White House and the Tertre Rouge that was reserved for racing.

      On my walk, I couldn't help but notice the numerous plaques and crosses along the edge of the track, marking the spots where both drivers and spectators had lost their lives. The first such memorial I came upon was in the Dunlop bend where Walt Hansgen, one of my mentors, had been killed in a Ford GT40 during testing in 1966. Despite the fact that my tour of the circuit had been quite sobering, when I returned to the hotel early that evening I was nevertheless ready for a good, hearty meal.

Wayne Sparling adjusts Tony's rear view mirror before race

    This was the year Tony Adamowicz got a chance to drive the race of his dreams in the #57 Ferrari 312P.

    Tony and co-driver Chuck Parson came home a distant 10th place out of 51 starters.  The race was marred by scores of accidents and torrential rains that played havoc with the Ferrari's electrics.  On the last lap the car stopped completely and with the help of some spectators, Tony pushed it from White House curve across the finish line.

    Writing about it now, he remembers his first Le Mans adventure as if it happened yesterday.

Tony accelerates hard out of the pits in the 1970 24-hours at Le Mans

      Le Mans 24 Hours

      June 13, 1970

Chuck Parsons, Tony's co-driver, gets fitted to the car

Chuck frowns at the darkening skies

     Each car must have at least two drivers.  A maximum of four hours at the wheel must be followed by a rest period of at least one hour.  At race's end, neither driver may exceed a total driving time of fourteen hours.

Tony Adamowicz, Gary Wheeler, Tony a2z, Tony Adamowics, a2zRacer, Gary Wheeler, Tony Adamowicz







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Chuck Parsons alone with his thoughts