Wednesday 13 April 2011

Bonne fête, monsieur Gurney!

An American racing icon celebrates a birthday; Dan Gurney is 80 years young today.

Born in Port Jefferson, New York, he moved to California as a teenager.

He became a successful racer, winning his first Formula 1 race at the French Grand 1962 driving a Porsche 804; it was also Porsche's first F1 win.

Not satisfied to be just a racer, he was instrumental in getting Colin Chapman to bring his Lotus’ to the Indianapolis 500, finally leading to their win with Jim Clark in 1965.

1967 was a big year for Americans in motor sport, and someone who was at the forefront of it was Dan Gurney.

He won, along with A. J. Foyt, the 24 Heures du Mans in a GT40 Mark IV and remains the only American to win a Formula 1 race in a car of his own construction at Spa in Belgium, racing his Eagle Weslake T1G. At his Le Mans win, Gurney introduced the tradition of spraying Champagne, which has carried from that point on.

In his career, he won races in Nascar, Can-Am, Trans-Am and Indy. Later on, as a team owner/manufacturer, his cars would also win the Indy 500, and the IMSA GTP series.

He is current writing his biography, which we are all looking forward to. There will certainly be some Champagne spraying when that is published!

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