Bill Adam’s parents immigrated to Canada from Scotland when Bill was just a wee-laddy He remembers little of his early life in his birth country and considers himself a proud Canadian and has displayed mat pride at car races around me world.
Growing up in Oakville he took a keen early interest in cars- This was somewhat unusual since his parent had little or no interest in the automobile. Racing became his early obsession and he spent his allowance on all the motor magazines that were available in town at the local store. One day when his mother found him in his room reading the latest issue of Car and Driver-rather than doing schoolwork-his mother ripped up his magazine. An hour later Bill was seen riding his bicycle back to the variety store to get another copy so he could finish the article he was reading. A friend of the family was aware of the interest that Bill had in cars and was also a race Marshall, so he asked if he could take Bill to the first Players 200 at Mosport in June of 1961. For Bill it was an experience that he always will fondly remember and it alsohelped shape his destiny. Little did that kind Marshall know what his offer had in sparking a racing interest in young Adam? At that event Bill covered every inch of the pits and got a first-hand look at the vehicles that he only had previously read and dreamed about. He saw a red car being worked on in the pits and asked the mechanic if it was a Ferrari. Yes it’s a Ferrari kid came the reply. Bill got out his brownie and look a picture of the car. It took a few more allowances before he was able to get the film developed and then matched up the photos with the program. 1 was never so disappointed said Bill recently to find out the car was not a Ferrari but a Triumph Special. Why anyone would want to lie to a kid, he thought. During his racing career he has always made a special effort to spend time talking with kids.
In May of 1971 Bill finally got his opportunity to race in a novice event at Harewood Acres. Three events later in July of 71 he was at Mosport and competing in his third novice event that would enable him get his National Race License. His main competition in those novice races leading up to getting that license was a young driver from Ohio named Bobby Rahal who was racing his fathers Porsche 906 K. Bill and Bobby both got their competition license on the same day in 1971 and have remained good personal friends ever since.
Bills first car was a $2,300 Corvette. As with all starting racers he was self sponsored. He only had enough money for one set of tires for the season so he quickly realized that he needed to be fast but smooth because there was no money to fix the car if he damaged it. I sold the car at the end of the year for $2900 thinking I was the smartest guy in the world. It was Corvette Grand Sport #001 and is now valued at over 2 million dollars. The first goal that Adam set for himself in racing was to beat the legendary Moe Carter. This he accomplished with his next race car a $10,500 Corvette. In 1974 Bill’s focus was on endurance series but the opportunity to join Trans-am in a Greenwood corvette was something he could not refuse. Regretfully there were problems and the ride did not materialize. Frustrated Bill briefly thought about quitting motorsport but an offer from Ron Box to put him in a stock car for the Export A race at Mosport re-focused Bill. “My first impression of stock car racing was an eye opener. When I first sat in the car I noticed that the peddles were to far apart to do heel and toe. 1 suggested they be moved closer to each other and before 1 could get out the mechanic was in the car with a acetylene torch cutting off the peddles to move them In the race I qualified up there with Richard Petty and Bobby Alison unfortunately the car did not last. ”
The next year Bill was able to put the Box car on the pole at the Glen only to once again have mechanical problems. In 1977 Adam heard that the Greenwood Corvette that he was supposed to drive the previous year was up for sale and he made a low-ball offer and ended up with the car. At the 6 Hr at Mosport that year Bill noticed that the last place paid more than double the entry fee so while he did not have the funds to go the distance he entered and was leading the first hour when he pulled in and retired. He had no fueling rig to go on. Bob Tullius noticed this and after the race congratulated Bill on his effort and said that he would be in touch. Boxing Day and he gets a call from Tullius about joining Group 44 racing. Ya right thought Adam, what kind of a fool do you takes me for but Tullius prevailed and Bill joined the team. In 1980 they won their class at Sebring and took the win at Mosport in a TR8. In 1981 they had a two car team but things were about to change dramatically as IMSA was adding a new class for prototypes GTP. Bill raced Jaguar through 1984. In 85 he drove a March GTP with a 1000 hp Buick engine but the car while blindingly fast only finished one race. In 1986 Bill switched to a Porsche 962 and for 87 a Riley and Scott.
In 1985 Harvey Hudes arranged a ride in a Can-Am where Bill finished second. In addition Cam Champion arranged for Bill to compete in the Rothmans Porsche series. In 1996 Bill teamed up with Hans stuck to win their class at Sebring. In 1987 at the first Miami GP Bill was interviewed by his future wife Dianne. She is the anchor of the nightly ABC news and Bill moved to Miami but keeps a summer place in Muskoka. In 1990 Bill began his second career in motorsport when he began to announce major races. He has worked on over a 1000 broadcasts for ESPN, CBS, NBC, CTV, TSN and Global. His ability as a driver comes across in his shows and remembering that kid who was told it was a Ferrari he always tells it like it is.
Images courtesy of Perry Mason