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Remembering Motorsport Legend Dan Sexton Gurney For The Badass He Was

Bradley Brownell January 15, 2018 Hoonobituaries 5 Comments

NASCAR

If you’ve been following motorsport for any amount of time, there is no forgiveness for not knowing about Dan Gurney and his multitude contributions to the industry. Dan was a proponent of safety equipment (like full-face helmets for example), he pioneered aerodynamics with the ‘Gurney flap’, invented the idea of spraying Champagne on the podium (as he won Le Mans for Ford in 1967), provided Grand Prix victories for Porsche, Brabham, and his own All-American Racers, penned the famed White Paper that argued for a convergence of American open-wheel series, and most importantly, he’d drive the wheels off of anything people would let him. Across his career, Dan participated in British touring car races, Formula 1, Can Am, Trans Am, ChampCar/Indy, NASCAR, and much more. He was the first person with major victories in NASCAR, sports cars, and Formula 1, a feat only matched by Mario Andretti and Juan Pablo Montoya.

More than just a racer, Dan also contributed to the sport as a team owner and manufacturer. His team, AAR, was founded in conjunction with Carroll Shelby in 1964, and Dan maintained control of the company through 2011 when he passed it on to his son. In that time, he’d engineered the team to victories in Formula 1, Trans Am (partnered with Plymouth), USAC (including three Indianapolis 500s), and sports cars (partnered with Toyota across the 1980s). 

Gurney died Sunday morning at 86 years old due to complications from pneumonia. Our thoughts are with his wife Evi and their sons Dan Jr, Justin, Alex, and Jimmy. 

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  • Fred

    At Daytona he had big lead but his engine blew in the Lotus and he parked it just inches from the start finish line. When the time event was done, he engaged the starter motor and crossed the finish line for the win. They banned that practice, which puts him in my hall of fame for going above and beyond and then having a regulation writted to ban it.

  • Seeing him race the big Ford Galaxies at Riverside was too cool. I would have given anything to watch him drive the Chevy Impala at Silverstone!

  • outback_ute

    I think he would be only the second, and surely the last last person in the modern Grand Prix era to win a Grand Prix in a car bearing his own name. The other being Jack Brabham of course.

    Plus he won the first Cannonball Run! And was popular enough for the “Dan Gurney for President” thing to be irony-free?

    RIP Dan

  • crank_case

    Absolute hero of mine, he was still lodging engine patents right up til the end. In an age when “innovation” is a much abused word that has lost some meaning, he was the real thing. Everybody goes on about Senna and the NSX, but Gurney was involved in tweaking the MK1 MR2s chassis, the everyman useable mid engined car.

  • Victor

    Trivia Facts : He had a Masters degree from Harvard Business school, and he built a car at age 19 that ran 138 MPH at the Bonneville Salt Flats. If it had wheels he raced it , quite a guy.

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