Throwback Thursday: Sadowski Wins 1997 Formula USA Championship

Larry Lawrence | November 30, 2017
David Sadowski (25) leads the pack into the first turn in a Formula USA race at Daytona International Speedway in November of 1997
David Sadowski (25), riding a Muzzy Raptor Kawasaki, leads the pack into the first turn in a Formula USA race at Daytona International Speedway in November of 1997. Following Sadowski are Michael Barnes (8), Eric Wood (10), Fritz Kling (in blue leathers), Mike Hale (104), Lee Shierts (58), Tray Batey (1), Rick Kirk (7), Tom Kipp (102), Grant Lopez (5) and more. Hale won the first leg with Barnes taking the second. Sadowski claimed the F-USA Championship. (Photo by Henny Ray Abrams)

In this week’s Throwback, we roll the time machine back 20 years to 1997. In this photo David Sadowski (25) leads the pack of Formula USA riders into the first turn during Fall NASB/CCS weekend at Daytona International Speedway. “Ski” rode his Team Labelle Muzzy Raptor Kawasaki to good enough finishes (7th & 5th) in the two-leg F-USA season finale to clinch that year’s Formula USA Championship. Sadowski raced in spite of having just suffered a torn Achilles tendon in a water-skiing accident. It was Sadowski’s second F-USA title.

It marked the final season of Formula USA as a national series. The championship, which start life as a featured club race at Willow Springs Raceway in Southern California, morphed into a run-what-you-brung national series that featured everything from massive 1300cc Superbikes (Yoshimura Suzuki’s Big Papa), to machines running drag-racing fuel (Team Hammer’s Methanol Monster), bikes that were boosted by nitrous oxide, to full-on 500cc Grand Prix machines (Marlboro Team Roberts Yamaha YZR500).  There were turbocharged bikes, punched-out 250 Grand Prix machines and Doug Polen once even rolled up to a race with a Suzuki that burned nitromethane (which was promptly banned).

By the mid-1990s the rules of the series, which ran under the umbrella of several different sanctioning bodies, had calmed down to a certain extent, with the primary weapons being big-bore Superbikes, such as the machine ridden by Sadowski.

It only lasted for about a decade, but road racing fans of the era will long remember the outlandish race bikes the Formula USA Series spawned.'

Larry Lawrence | Archives Editor In addition to writing our Archives section on a weekly basis, Lawrence is another who is capable of covering any event we throw his way.