Dan Gurney, 1931-2018
Dan Gurney, 1931-2018
Racing visionary, pioneer, owner, design legend and race winner Dan Gurney has died at the age of 86.
A statement from Evi Gurney, the Gurney family and AAR (All American Racers) teammates reads as follows: “With one last smile on his handsome face, Dan drove off into the unknown just before noon today, January 14, 2018. In deepest sorrow, with gratitude in our hearts for the love and joy you have given us during your time on this earth, we say ‘Godspeed.’”
Gurney’s success in sports cars came in batches, with the ultimate highlights a win co-driving with A.J. Foyt in the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans in a Ford GT40 Mk.IV (photo above courtesy of Ford Performance), where he was the first to spray champagne on the victory podium, and as a team owner in the IMSA GTP class in 1992 and 1993 with the all-conquering Eagle Toyotas.
He famously won the 1967 Belgian Grand Prix in his own Eagle chassis and had several top-five finishes at the Indianapolis 500. He was the first driver to wear a full-face helmet, and was responsible for the “Gurney Flap”, a right-angle extension on the upper trailing edge of the rear wing which increases downforce.
“The word ‘legend’ can sometimes be overused, but in describing Daniel Sexton Gurney, it’s the only word that fits,” said IMSA President Scott Atherton. “Dan Gurney was an American racing legend who accomplished nearly all there was to accomplish as a driver in our sport, from sports cars to NASCAR, Indy cars to Formula 1. Dan was an innovative car builder and a lifelong steward of motorsports beyond his on-track performance.”
Countless tributes have come in from the motorsports world, with racing legends such as Foyt and Mario Andretti among those to express their condolences, as well as many of the current generation drivers.
RIP Dan Gurney. I was first inspired by him when I was in midgets dreaming of being like him. I was last inspired by him yesterday. Yes, I mean forever. He understood me better than anyone else, which is why he wrote the foreword for my book in 2001 #DanGurneyHasFinishedTheRace pic.twitter.com/twMkM2Mn0U
— Mario Andretti (@MarioAndretti) January 14, 2018
Corvette Racing’s Tommy Milner tweeted, “Gurney. Donohue. Hill. For me, these three are the pinnacle of American racers, personalities, and men. Godspeed Dan Gurney.”
Audi’s Allan McNish added, “Such sad news Dan Gurney passed away. A true gent, champion driver, team boss, innovator. But we will remember him next time we put on a fullface helmet, increase the rear wing gurney flap to fix turn in oversteer, win & spray podium champagne.”
Those are but two of the countless tributes expressed to a racing legend.