John Cordts: Man of talent and passion

Cordts finished 3rd at the USRRC race at Bridgehampton on May 19, 1968,. Robert G. White photo.

Cordts finished 3rd at the USRRC race at Bridgehampton on May 19, 1968,. Robert G. White photo.

This interview by Allan de la Plante originally appeared in the Toronto Star Wheels and has been reprinted with permission.

VICTORIA, B.C.—“Do you happen to know where I could find the home of John and Linda Cordts?”

I had pulled off the rural road well lost. The woman walking her dog was full of smiles and friendly.

“Do you mean John Cordts, the carver?”

“No. I am looking for John Cordts, the racing driver,” I said smiling, knowing full well that John was now a well-known wood carver.

“This can’t be the same man, but I can show you where the carver lives and perhaps they will know where the racing driver lives.”

I took the directions. When I got to the white house that sat on a hill overlooking the island countryside, a tall, slim, white-haired man stretched out his hand and softly said, “It’s been a long, long time.”

I had known John Cordts when I was a teenager. Little did I know then that I would one day sit and chat with him about his life in racing, when the thunderous roar of a Canadian-American Challenge Cup series car would thrill thousands of fans across North America.

Here are excerpts from our conversation.

Allan de la Plante: It’s been a while since we last met John.

John Cordts: It was the mid-’60s. You came up to my house in North Bay to look at my Elva racing car. I think you also took my Jag out for a bit of a thrash.
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Motorsport marshalling in the early days

MOSPORT-1962-Can-GP-Dailu-mk-I

By the late Leighton Irwin, originally published in The Garage Blog in 2010.

Mosport was a different place in the beginning. To start with it was 10 feet narrower. The top of 7 was ten feet higher and back flips were a real danger. Only run off, if you could call it that, was bottom of 2 where you might get stuck in the swamp. Single row guardrail was at the tunnels at 1 and 9 and at bottom of 4. Tunnels were shorter and no room for error. Jim Hall at 9 and John Surtees at 1 both went over. Both Paul Cooke and Jack Boxstrom went for a swim at 4. Earth banks surrounded the track as protection and cars surmounting them was not unknown. Race Control was the bottom floor of the tower on the inside just past 10. Those working in the pits were well protected from errant cars by a white line painted on the track. All Starts were standing.

At the pro races, spring and fall CRCA would have about 300 marshalls on raceday which was Sat. Fri. practice was another matter but still about 60 to 70 people. Club races would have in excess of a 100 marshalls on Sat. and about 40 on Fri. No Sunday racing back then.
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Bill Adam | A retrospective

A trip to what is now a historic race in Canada proved just the thing for a young Scottish immigrant who has since made Canada his home.

Bill Adam attended the 1961 Players 200 race, the first major event at the new road course north of Toronto known as Mosport Park. He was hooked. He collected information on racing gleaned from magazines and trips to the courses while waiting to be old enough to race cars.

In 1971 that day came, and after some novice events at Harewood Acres, Adam acquired his competition licence, along with another young racer who would also make a mark for himself, Bobby Rahal.

Adam started racing Corvettes, and got his break when he signed on with Bob Tullius and his Group 44 Racing team in 1980. Adam, a resident of Southern Ontario, started with the Truimph TR8s of Group 44, helping to win the team’s class at Mosport and Sebring of that year. He then raced a Group 44 Jaguar XJR-5 in the IMSA GTP class until 1984, ran a Porsche 962 in 1986, and then a Riley and a Scott the following year.

Adam also competed in the Rothmans Porsche Cup, with numerous wins. In 1987 he, along with fellow Canadians Richard Spenard and Scott Goodyear, raced a Porsche 962C at Le Mans, running as high as fifth at one point in the classic endurance event.

He also raced in several stock car events, including an Export A race at Mosport in 1974 and competed with the touring ASA (American Speed Association) at Cayuga Speedway in 1984.

Early in the 21st century he drove in the Porsche Supercup in the USGP, and ran a 911 at the 2003 Mont Tremblant Grand Am event.

A few years before, in 1990, Adam started his second career in motorsports as a race announcer for the television networks of ESPN, CBS, NBC, CTV, TSN, and Global. Recently, he has competed in historic sports car racing. He maintains homes in the Ontario cottage region of Muskoka, and in Florida.