Adamson’s Eloquence Educates Road America Fans


Story By John Gunnell

Henry Adamson laughs a lot when interviewed. It’s a gentle, rolling laugh that tells you that his mental hard drive has started searching for a witty comeback to your question.

He laughs when told that people call him the “voice of Road America.” He laughs when asked if he really lives up to the title “Donald Davidson of Elkhart Lake.” When asked about rumors about his retirement from the Road America announcer’s booth, Adamson chuckled. “No one told me that,” he said, “but maybe somebody wants me to.”

Adamson was being his witty self again. Inside, he knows that the track would be hard-pressed to find someone who knows vintage racing history the way he does. “Like a Druid, I live by my memory,” Adamson explained. “I went to some races, but the races I really wanted to be at were long since over by the time I was old enough to learn about them. So I got into vintage racing in 1978.” Adamson immersed himself in facts, figures and people in the vintage racing world.

In 1988, when it became clear that vintage racing fans needed a “support group,” Adamson became a founding member of the Vintage Motorsports Council—created to serve as a council for all vintage racing organizations. He was VMC president from 1990 to ’92, and has won various VMC honors, such as the prestigious Dewey Dellinger award.

Adamson also developed a devotion to the Vintage Sports Car Driver’s Association. “I’m one of the group’s earliest members,” said the gas pedal guru “I’ve held almost every VSCDA office that one person can hold. I’ve been a director since 1980, and now I’m a Director Emeritus, which means that I still get to put my oar in the water, but no one ever has to vote for me again.”

Vision problems and walking with a cane don’t keep Adamson away from race tracks. “I go to as many of our [VSCDA] races as I can,” he pointed out. “I don’t usually go to the driver’s school at Gingerman and Meadowdale, although I’ve been to Gingerman and driven there. I’ve been to IRP and driven there, and Blackhawk Farms, of course. I’ve been to Waterford and worked there a couple of times. And I did an event at the Milwaukee Mile for the Harry A. Miller Club. I own a bunch of old cars, too. I can’t drive them, but I still own them and work on them.

Adamson’s main interest is American racing in the original era of the ’20s and ’30s, through the ’50s—and the ’60s to a lesser degree. “I like the metal,” Adamson stressed. “I like the variety there used to be, and that isn’t there anymore. The idea that the Indy guys are all running the same engine and chassis [today] just drives me nuts. When you look back at the fields of the 1920s and ’30s— and even into the ’60s, the variety was so wonderful.”

Adamson earned his college degree in Classical Greek studies. He worked as a musician for a time and dabbled in casting reproduction parts for vintage cars. He even saw one of his replica Ford badges on a 1955 Crown Victoria at the Imperial Palace Auto Collection.

However, it’s the enjoyment of being an announcer at vintage races and classic car venues that Henry Adamson likes most, and he does it with unmatched eloquence and class.

“Attention in the paddock,” Adamson says into his mic, “during the noon hour—and this is not bounded by the fact that we’re in kind of a candid schedule here because of our long cleanup—Duck Waddle will be giving a talk south of the St. John’s Baptist food booth. This is something you’d pay for at Skip Barber; Duck is our distinguished professor of racecraft.

Partake of his wisdom, gained over many years. He gives it freely for love of the game—so go learn.” Adamson’s passion extends to the track to which he’s linked the closest, Road America. He says George Bruggenthies, another founding member of VMC, has transformed Road America. “It has more strings to its bow than it ever had before.”

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