No. 930
January 24, 2018
 

About The UjianNasional

Author, commentator, influencer. The Consigliere. Minister of the High-Octane Truth. Editor-in-Chief of .

Peter DeLorenzo has been in and around the sport of racing since the age of ten. After a 22-year career in automotive marketing and advertising, where he worked on national campaigns as well as creating many motorsports campaigns for various clients, DeLorenzo established Ujian-nasional.info on June 1, 1999. Over the years DeLorenzo's commentaries on racing and the business of motorsports have resonated throughout the industry. Because of the burgeoning influence of those commentaries, DeLorenzo has directly consulted automotive clients on the fundamental direction and content of their motorsports programs. DeLorenzo is considered to be one of the most influential voices commenting on the sport today.

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Fumes


Monday
Jan222018

ALL-AMERICAN RACER.

Editor-in-Chief's Note: We're going to leave this "Fumes" up for another week. The impact of Dan Gurney's passing - and his incredible career - is still resonating throughout the racing world, and it seemed somehow improper to give Dan's legacy only one week of attention. It is perhaps appropriate since the kickoff of the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship takes place this weekend with the Daytona 24 Hour, an event in which Dan Gurney played such a pivotal role during the 60s. It is fitting, too, that sports car racing - against all odds - is undergoing a genuine renaissance in this country, and I look forward to a hotly-contested race this weekend at Daytona. -PMD

By Peter M. DeLorenzo

Detroit. We all knew this day was coming, the great Dan Gurney was getting up in years and the inevitability of life's end was near. But that doesn't make his passing easier or any less heartbreaking. As a country we've been blessed with many talented racers, but Dan was always different (and full disclosure, he was my all-time favorite). And even though he grew up in Long Island and didn't move to California until he graduated from high school, Dan will always be the lanky Californian with the blonde hair who burst on the racing scene and in short order was going up against the world's best on tracks all over Europe. 

Dan's accomplishments in racing are many. His driving career spanned fifteen years, from 1955 to 1970. His talent was prodigious and his reputation grew with each race he competed in. Dan became one of America's top road racing stars as well as one of the most popular F1 drivers of his era. Gurney raced for Ferrari, BRM, Porsche (giving the German manufacturer its only win as an F1 constructor), Brabham and later his own All American Racers Eagle team. By the time Dan retired from active driving in 1970 he had raced in 312 events in 20 countries with 51 different makes (more than 100 different models) of cars winning 51 races, 42 pole positions and achieving 47 podiums. And the measure of respect that his competitors reserved for him was well-documented, including the great Jim Clark who considered Dan to be his most talented rival. 

Dan won in Formula 1, NASCAR (five 500-mile races at Riverside), and recorded two second-place finishes in the Indianapolis 500. And Dan was single-handedly responsible for bringing Colin Chapman and the Ford Motor Company together for a run at the Indy 500. He won in Trans-Am, Can-Am and sports car races, including at the Nuerburgring, Daytona, Sebring and his famous victory at the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans in a Ford Mk IV with A.J. Foyt. Gurney was the first driver to post victories in the four major motorsports categories: Grand Prix, Indy Car, NASCAR and Sports Cars. To this day he is one of only three drivers in history (the others being Mario Andretti and Juan Pablo Montoya) who have accomplished that. 

But one victory stands above all the others for Dan Gurney. His win in the 1967 Grand Prix of Belgium in his Eagle Gurney-Weslake V12 remains the first and only time that an American citizen built and raced a car of his own construction and put it into the winner’s circle of a World Championship F1 race. 

Dan embarked on a second and third career as a race car manufacturer of the Eagles as well as team owner of AAR started while he was still actively driving, and it went into full gear upon his retirement in 1970. At that time he bought out AAR co-founder Carroll Shelby and was the sole owner, chairman and CEO of the company ever since. AAR has been designing and manufacturing race cars with great success during the last 30 years, winning eight Championships and capturing 78 victories and 83 pole positions, including the Indy 500 twice (Bobby Unser in 1968 and Gordon Johncock in 1973), the 12 hours of Sebring and the Daytona 24 Hour. 

You can get the complete scope of Dan's racing career at . 

Supremely gifted behind the wheel, Dan Gurney was also a technical visionary whose influence will live on in the sport of motor racing forever. 

But beyond that, he was truly an extraordinary man who will be deeply missed.

(Images courtesy of the Ford Racing Archives)
Dan Gurney
All-American Racer
1931 - 2018

Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 1963. Dan Gurney in the brand-new Lotus-Ford Indy car in its first private test.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 1963. Lotus team members, Ford operatives and Firestone tire engineers crowd around Dan Gurney and the Lotus-Ford at the first private test for the new machine. Gurney was instrumental in bringing Colin Chapman and the Ford Motor Company together for an attempt at winning the Indianapolis 500.

Riverside International Raceway, 1963. Dan was part of the Shelby American Cobra team for a special three-hour GT race. Gurney delivered many great moments and wins for Carroll Shelby.

Daytona International Speedway, 1966. Dan sits in his factory Shelby American Ford Mk II 427 during practice for the Daytona 24 Hour race.

Spa-Francorchamps, 1967. Dan Gurney on the way to his greatest victory in the Grand Prix of Belgium. It came just ten days after he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans with A. J. Foyt.

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