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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:59 am 
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Joined: Wed Apr 09, 2008 5:53 pm
Posts: 12934
Location: CT
American racing legend Dan Gurney died of pneumonia yesterday (14Jan18) at age 86. Dan was one of my F-1 racing heroes when I was a teenager and, along with Ritchie Ginther and Phil Hill, Dan was one of only three successful American F-1 racers of the 1960s.

Dan was a tall and lanky Californian with a movie star face and smile. Over a span of 30 years, Dan drove for almost everybody. I remember him in 1959 pushing a tiny Porsche ahead of everyone else to win an impossible sports car championship race. He won several big-name grands prix, always in other people's cars. In the early '60s he wrote a book about auto racing named "The Cruel Sport", which became so important to the sport I couldn't find one to buy. They were constantly back-ordered even after years of searching and I never found one.

In the mid-'60s Dan decided to start his own race team and build his own new F-1 cars. They were Weslake powered and Dan called them the "Eagle". First year was very disappointing. At Watkins Glen (the year I met him and exchanged handshakes), his Eagle-Weslake ran poorly until he pulled into the pits and, in front of everyone (I was there with a Pit Pass), bounced a wrench off the car and yelled, "If it wasn't one big piece of cast iron, maybe you could ADJUST something!" He finished that year driving for the new Honda F-1 team, in their incredible 400hp V12 cars.

Dan ditched Weslake and built his own new engine for his Gurney Eagle, turning it into a winning Grand Prix car. He switched back to professional sports car racing when the F-1 cars grew wings, tripled their horsepower, race rules changed and many of his close F-1 friends died around him. Dan was a terror in a Cobra and raced in many world-wide race classes, including LeMans, Indy and Sebring, NASCAR and F-1.

Farewell Dan Gurney. Thanks for the teenage idolization and the thrilling races you let me enjoy, and for campaigning the American flag world-wide. Keep your revs up, driver.

https://www.autoblog.com/2018/01/14/dan ... ab-tile-11

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:19 pm 
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Joined: Fri Mar 06, 2009 10:22 am
Posts: 154
Location: Bethel, CT
Gurney was a very special gentleman, a "legend" a hero to anyone involved in motorsports.
I had a very brief encounter with Dan at the Lime Rock Grand Prix IMSA Series, 1989 I think. His All American Racers group had entered 2 Toyota GTP cars.
We were standing at the top of the Uphill at the newly created chicane, that one that was supposed to keep the cars from going airborne at the top of the Uphill.
One of the Toyota's spun on the entrance into the chicane and got beached up on the apex curbing, the rear wheels were dangling in mid air no traction! It was a local yellow so the Toyota was rapidly losing laps as the corner workers tried to figure out how to deal with it.
It was very noisy, I felt a tap on my shoulder, turned around it was Dan Gurney and several crew members had come up from the pits, we were standing in front of the small access gate to the track and he needed to get through to straighten out the whole debacle. Remember saying to him "give 'em Hell Dan"
Even in that situation He was a Gentleman.
Colin
the older one
1970 240Z - 2483


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:42 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 09, 2008 5:53 pm
Posts: 12934
Location: CT
What a great memory! You and I really need to share that campfire sometime, Colin.

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