I was fortunate enough to see Dan Gurney a number of times over the years, although I only got to see him race once. Sitting in the grandstand opposite the pits at the 1966 Sebring 12 hours, I waited, along with the crowd, for Dan to come around the last turn on the last lap to win the race. Inexplicably, he did not come, Ken Miles arriving first instead. Then, from the end of the pits, we saw Dan pushing his broken car, first credited with second place, before being disqualified for pushing it. Much better luck was to follow Dan’s career, as a driver, car builder, and exemplary human being. Gurney formed All American Racers with Carroll Shelby in 1965, creating numerous race cars in a variety of series. Twenty one of the 33 starters at the 1973 Indy 500 were Eagles. Even after the race cars, AAR continued with other projects, including the Alligator motorcycle and the carbon fiber legs that the Falcon X rocket uses to land on!
After Dan’s passing, tributes poured in, of course from many in the motorsports community but also from people as diverse as Chuck Yeager, who considered him a friend. Rare in a successful and competitive race driver, Dan was universally liked, a true gentleman.
Honoring Dan at Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion in 2010, many of the cars connected with him were on display, from numerous Eagles, the 1967 LeMans winning Mark IV, to the Ferrari Daytona he drove with Brock Yates to win the second Cannonball Run. Also, on display at a campsite on the hill, was a reminder of the tongue-in-cheek Car and Driver campaign to run him for President in 1964.
The Formula 1 Eagle Dan drove to victory in the 1967 race at Spa
The LeMans-winning Ford Mk IV, co-driven with A.J. Foyt
Dan and Bobby Unser in a conversation in front of a rapt crowd
Gurney’s Lola T70 with a small-block Ford with Gurney-Weslake heads,
the only Ford-engined car to win a Can-Am race
The McLeagle, Gurney’s much modified McLaren Can-Am car
The Toyota Eagle GTP, with a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine,
winner of 21 out of 27 IMSA races, including the last 17 in a row
1981 Eagle, driven by Mike Mosley from the front row of the Indy 500 and
winning the Milwaukee race two weeks later, the last stock-block-engined
car to wina national Champ Car race
Eagle Formula 5000 car
Bobby Unser’s 1975 Indy 500 winning car
The Ferrari Daytona, co-driven with Brock Yates to the first multi-car Cannonball Run
Bobby Unser’s 1974 USAC Championship-winning car
The first Eagle, built in 1966
1968 Rex Mays winner
The Nurburgring-winning Birdcage Maserati Tipo 61, driven by Dan Gurney and Stirling Moss
The Trans-Am Cuda, in which Dan drove his last competitive race in 1970
From Sebring 1966, I believe this is the first car with a rooftop “Gurney Bubble”