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Dan Gurney: 1931-2018

Ford's 1967 Le Mans winner and all round motorsport legend passes

Sad news has just reached DSC that legendary American driver, constructor and team owner Dan Gurney has passed away from complications arising from pneumonia, aged 86.

A brief and typically eloquent statement from his family has confirmed the sad news:

”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, a New York native, left a major mark on the world of motorsport during his lengthy career, competing with varying degrees of success in multiple disciplines including Formula One, IndyCar, NASCAR and of course, sportscars.

Of his many achievements, Gurney will perhaps be remembered most by the sportscar community for winning the 1967 Le Mans 24 Hours with Ford, driving a Ford GT40 Mk.IV with AJ Foyt.

As well as being a memorable race because of its significance to the Blue Oval’s legacy at La Sarthe in its years racing against Ferrari, it was also notable because in celebration, Foyt and Gurney spontaneously started the tradition of spraying champagne in celebration.

He also took wins in Trans Am and Can Am, and in 1960 claimed a win with none other than Stirling Moss in the Nürburgring 1000km, sharing a Maserati Tipo 61.

In that event, he and Moss were up against a world-class field which included many other legendary drivers including Jim Clark, Hans Hermann, Ricardo and Pedro Gonzalez, Phil Hill, Wolfgang Von Trips and Paul Frere.

Outside of his time in endurance racing, as a driver Gurney also finished in the top three of the Indy 500 three consecutive years from 1968-70 and made 86 Formula One starts, which included three race wins; two with Brabham back in 1964 and another with Anglo American Racers in 1967. He also won five NASCAR races between 1963 and 1968.

As a constructor and team owner, Gurney found success too. After retiring from F1, Gurney founded All American Racers (which built and raced cars in various disciplines) from 1970 until 2011, when his son took over the everyday reins of the business.

AAR won a total of 78 races, including the Indy 500 (1968 & 1975), Sebring 12 Hours (1992 & 1993 – below)) and Daytona 24 Hours (1993) – with the astounding Toyota Eagle Mk IIIs. Its Eagle chassis also went on to win the Indy 500 three times with customer teams.

Known for his raw talent behind the wheel, and versatility as a driver, Gurney’s astonishing legacy will last forever.

DSC will be adding a longer tribute to one of motorsport’s truly iconic personalities in the coming days but for now please enjoy listening back to Dan himself recalling just a few of his myriad memories with our friend and colleague Marshall Pruett in 2016, MP describes Dan Gurney as his hero, we firmly endorse that sentiment!

You can hear Marshall’s podcast with Dan Gurney HERE >>

For those who want to express their sentiments, please write a note to eagleracingcarsusa@aarinc.com

Dan Gurney is survived by his wife Evi, and sons Justin, Alex, Jimmy and Dan Jr.

Featured image and 1967 Le Mans image courtesy of Ford