Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Daniel Sexton Gurney (born April 13, 1931) is one of the most important figures in the history of American auto racing. He was born in Port Jefferson, New York, but moved to California as a teenager. He has been a driver, a car manufacturer and a team owner at racing's highest levels since 1958. He is one of only five American drivers to win a Formula One Grand Prix, and the only one to win in a car of his own manufacture. He also won the 24 hours of Le Mans and races in the Indy Car, NASCAR, Can-Am and Trans-Am series.
Formula One Career
After driving a Ferrari at Le Mans in 1958, Gurney was invited to take a test run in a works Ferrari, and his Formula One career began with the team in 1959. In just four races that first year, he earned two podium finishes, but the team's strict management style did not suit him. In 1960 he had six non-finishes in seven races behind the wheel of a privately-entered BRM, then teamed with Jo Bonnier for the first full season of the factory Porsche team in 1961. After three second places the first year, he broke through in 1962 at the French Grand Prix with his first World Championship victory and the only GP win for Porsche. One week later, he repeated the win in a non-Championship F1 race in front of Porsche home at Stuttgarts Solitude race track. Due to the high costs of racing in F1, Porsche which packed up after the 1962 season. In turn, Gurney married Porsche secretary Evi.
Gurney was the first driver hired by Jack Brabham to drive with him for the Brabham Racing Organisation. While Brabham himself scored the maiden victory at the 1963 Solitude race, it was Gurney again who took the team's first win in a championship race, in 1964, and again in Rouen. In all, he earned two wins (in 1964) and ten podiums (including five consecutive in 1965) for Brabham before leaving to start his own team.
In 1962, Gurney and Carroll Shelby began dreaming of building an American racing car to compete with the best European makes. Shelby convinced Goodyear, who wanted to challenge Firestone's domination of American racing at the time, to sponsor the team, and Goodyear's president Victor Holt suggested the name, "All American Racers", and the team was formed in 1965.
Their initial focus was Indianapolis and Goodyear's battle with Firestone, but Gurney's first love was road racing, especially in Europe, and he wanted to win the Formula One World Championship while driving an American Grand Prix Eagle . Partnered with British engine maker Weslake , the Formula One effort was called "Anglo-American Racers." The Weslake V12 engine was not ready for the 1966 Grand Prix season, so the team used four-cylinder 2.7-liter Coventry-Climax engines and made their first appearance in the second race of the year in Belgium. Gurney scored the team's first Championship points by finishing fifth in the French Grand Prix at Reims.
The next season, the team failed to finish any of the first three races, but on June 18, 1967, Gurney took a historic victory in the Belgian Grand Prix. Starting in the middle of the first row, Gurney initially followed Jim Clark's Lotus and the BRM of Jackie Stewart. Clark encountered problems on Lap 12 that dropped him down to ninth position. Having moved up to second spot, Gurney set the fastest lap of the race on Lap 19. Two laps later, he and his Eagle took the lead and came home over a minute ahead of Stewart.
This win came just a week after his surprise victory with A.J. Foyt at Le Mans, where Gurney spontaneously began the now-familiar winner's tradition of spraying champagne from the podium to celebrate.
Unfortunately, the victory in Belgium was the high point for AAR as engine problems continued to plague the Eagle. He lead the 1967 German GP at the Nürburgring before the V12 failed again. After a third place finish in Canada that year, the car would finish only one more race. By the end of the 1968 season, Gurney was driving a McLaren-Ford. His last Formula One race was the 1970 British Grand Prix.
Grand Prix Victories
|1962||French Grand Prix (Rouen)||Porsche||July 8|
|1964||French Grand Prix (Rouen)||Brabham-Climax||June 28|
|1964||Mexican Grand Prix (Hermanos Rodriguez )||Brabham-Climax||October 25|
|1967||Belgian Grand Prix (Spa-Francorchamps)||Eagle -Weslake||June 18|
Among American drivers, his 86 Grand Prix starts ranks third, and his total of four GP wins is second only to Mario Andretti. Perhaps the greatest tribute to Gurney's driving ability, however, was paid by the father of Scottish World Champion Jim Clark when he took Gurney aside at his son's funeral in 1968 and told Gurney that he was the only driver Clark had ever feared on the track. (Horton, 1999).
Full-Time Team Owner
Upon his retirement from Formula One, Gurney devoted himself full-time to his role as car maker and team owner. He has been the sole owner, Chairman and CEO of All American Racers since 1970. The team won 78 races (including the Indianapolis 500, the 12 Hours of Sebring, and the 24 Hours of Daytona) and eight championships, while Gurney's Eagle race car customers also won three Indianapolis 500 races and three championships. AAR withdrew from the CART series in 1986, but enjoyed tremendous success with Toyota in the IMSA GTP series, where in 1992 and 1993 Toyota Eagles won 17 consecutive races, back-to-back Drivers and Manufacturers Championships, and wins in the endurance classics of Daytona and Sebring. The team returned to CART as the factory Toyota team in 1996, but left again after the 1999 season when Goodyear withdrew from the series and Toyota ended their relationship with the team.
In 1990, Gurney was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall Of Fame . He is also a member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, the Sebring International Raceway Hall of Fame, and the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame.
- Apart from champagne spraying, Gurney invented the simple but effective Gurney flap at the end of the wings, which improves downforce
- In 1971, he won the first Cannonball Baker Sea To Shining Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, by driving a Ferrari from New York to Los Angeles in 35 hours together with Car & Driver magazine editor Brock Yates. This inspired the series of movies with Burt Reynolds and others
- Gurney now develops a new kind of motorcycle called Alligator, which features an extremely low seat position
- Dan Gurney's NASCAR sucess was with the Wood Brothers and beating everyone at the old Riverside International Raceway in Riverside, California whenever NASCAR was at RIR.
- Eagle-eye. Dan Gurney's All American Racers.
- Dan Gurney. GP Encyclopedia. The Motorsport Company.
- Blinkhorn, Robert. Dan Gurney. Grand Prix Racing -- The Whole Story.
- David, Dennis. Dan Gurney. Grand Prix History.
- Horton, Roger (1999). Remember Jim Clark. Atlas Formula One Journal.
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details