Fuji Master  250 Km,   Japan

            Oct. 10, 1971

     The Japanese ran their own Group 7 races for Can-Am cars in Japan.  Toyota had been unsuccessfully trying to beat the Nissan G7 sports cars for a couple of years and came up with the idea of importing a McLaren M12 chassis (like the red #12 car Tony sometimes drove for Lothar Motschenbacher).

     The Toyota factory fitted revised bodywork to their McLaren, then installed their own five liter, quad overhead cam all-aluminum V8 engine.

     More McLarens were imported by private racing teams, some powered by factory-supplied Toyota engines, others by aluminum big block Chevrolet V8 engines.

     Many American drivers made the trip to Japan with their own McLarens and Lolas; then teamed with Japanese drivers, tried new bodywork, and sometimes sold their cars to Japanese teams who often installed factory-supplied Toyota V8 engines.

     I was invited by the team twice.  The first time I was leading the race by a good margin in the rain.  It was documented by Japanese TV with great coverage.  They couldn't believe the distance I made from the other competitors in the first couple of laps.  The lead I had was phenomenal, I took to the track like a duck in a new pond.  The car soon retired with tire failure.  Seems the team's old rain tires were dry rotted.  I don't remember the brand, but they were European not Goodyear's.

     Five weeks later, I went back with brand new Goodyear rain tires, sent over for the occasion.  I don't think it rained this time.  The team was happy with a great set of new rain tires, but, the throttle linkage was not.

     I struggled with a stuck throttle cable for the entire race.  Those red Morse cables were not all that great, but everyone used them at the time.   I ended up one lap in arrears, finishing fourth.

     I went to Japan with the Electramotive Nissan team twelve years later in 1983.  The crew was surprised to see a poster I had signed in '71 still up on the cafeteria wall at Fuji Speedway.  But when you look at the car, you can see why.

Tony finished fourth, fighting a sticking throttle in a rebodied McLaren M12/Chevy

     When Toyota withdrew from racing, teams using those loaned engines had to replace them with the big bore aluminum Chevy engines.  Today, it is hard to know if the car in these photos is the one Tony drove, but he says the bodywork and number "0" is identical.

     Japanese road racing thrived and some American drivers like Tony, were paid to fly over and drive Japanese team cars.

     The first time was Sept. 5, 1971, where he drove the Fuji 200 Miles, but DNF'd due to tire failure.

Five weeks later, he returned for the Fuji 250 Km on Oct. 10, 1971.

Heavily modified McLaren M12

Leading a Porsche 917

Mt. Fuji towers behind the grandstands

     Fuji Speedway was built in the shadow of Mt. Fuji in the 1960's.  The track's high-speed sweeping turns proved quite hazardous until improved safety barriers were adopted.

Fiji pit scene

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







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