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American motorsport legend Dan Gurney passes away

By Chris Thompson, 15 Jan 2018 News

motorsports legend Dan Gurney obituary

Racer, car builder, and team owner Dan Gurney has died due to complications from pneumonia

Motorsport legend and pioneer of modern open-wheeled racing Dan Gurney, born 1931 in New York, has passed away, aged 86, due to complications from pneumonia.

The man who most prominently raced in Formula 1, Indy, and NASCAR was also a racecar builder and team owner, having started motorsport team and manufacturer All American Racers (AAR).

Most notably, Dan Gurney is one of a handful of American drivers to have won a Formula 1 race, and his four GP wins are second only to Mario Andretti’s 12 for American drivers.

Andretti’s respect for Gurney endures today, as he offers his condolences (as does his son Michael) and shares memories.

Gurney had built cars – badged ‘Eagle’ – which were raced by the likes of Bruce McLaren and Geoff Brabham across F1 and Indy respectively, as well as having driven them himself.

He is the most recent Formula 1 driver to have won in a car of his own construction. As well as this, Gurney has a couple of ‘firsts’ to his name.

It is believed Gurney was the first F1 driver to spray champagne from a podium, after his 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans victory.

Gurney also created the Gurney flap, a small addition to a car’s rear wing which can noticeably improve cornering speed and downforce without creating significant drag.

Additionally, his use of a full-faced helmet during the ’68 German Grand Prix is cited as the first time a driver opted for such a helmet in GP racing.

Gurney was also the first driver to win a Formula 1 race for Porsche, Brabham, and his own AAR team.

As well as his many achievements and influences in F1, Gurney can be credited with helping create the organisational system (Championship Auto Racing Teams, or CART) which makes Indy racing what it is today.

In its early days, poor organisation and struggling teams prompted Gurney to pen a ‘white paper’ which resulted in team owners (notably Roger Penske) creating the CART organisation.

His influence is still noted to this day, and current Indy driver Graham Rahal paid his respects, as did president of the Indianapolis Speedway Doug Boles.

Gurney’s achievements are too great and varied to list, but it’s clear the motorsport world has lost one of its greatest contributors today.