|Born||April 13, 1931 (age 81)|
Port Jefferson, New York, US
|Formula One World Championship Career|
( 86 starts)
|First Race||1959 French Grand Prix|
|Last Race||1970 British Grand Prix|
|First Win||1962 French Grand Prix|
|Last Win||1967 Belgian Grand Prix|
Daniel Sexton Gurney (born April 13, 1931) is an American racing driver, race car constructor, and team owner.
The son of a Metropolitan Opera star, 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.
Gurney also won races in the Indy Car, NASCAR, Can-Am, and Trans-Am Series. Gurney was the first driver to win races in Sports Cars (1958), Formula One (1962), NASCAR (1963), and Indy Car (1967) (the other two being Mario Andretti and Juan Pablo Montoya). In 1967, after winning the 24 hours of Le Mans together with A.J. Foyt, he spontaneously sprayed champagne while celebrating on the podium. Apart from starting this tradition, he also was the first to put a simple right-angle extension on the upper trailing edge of the rear wing. This device, called a Gurney flap, increases downforce and, if well designed, imposes only a relatively small increase in aerodynamic drag. At the 1968 German Grand Prix he became the first driver ever to use a full face helmet in Grand Prix racing.
Dan Gurney's father, John Gurney, was a prominent singer with the Metropolitan Opera in New York who retired in 1947 and moved the family to Riverside, California when Dan was a teenager. Young Dan quickly became caught up in the California hot rod culture. At age 19, he built and raced a car that went 138 miles per hour (mph) (222 kilometres per hour [km/h]) at the Bonneville Salt Flats. He then became an amateur drag racer and sports car racer. He served in the United States Army during the Korean War.
Gurney's first major break occurred in the fall of 1957, when he was invited to test Frank Arciero's Arciero Special. It was powered by a 4.2-litre reworked Maserati engine with Ferrari running gear, and a Sports Car Engineering Mistral body. This ill-handling brute of a car was very fast, but even top drivers like Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles had found it difficult to handle. He finished second in the inaugural Riverside Grand Prix (behind Shelby), beating established stars like Masten Gregory, Walt Hansgen and Phil Hill. This attracted the attention of famed Ferrari North American importer Luigi Chinetti, who arranged for a factory ride for the young driver at Le Mans in 1958. Gurney, teamed with fellow Californian Bruce Kessler, had worked the car up to fifth overall and handed over to Kessler, who was then caught up in an accident. This performance, and others, earned him 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.
1960In 1960 he had six non-finishes in seven races behind the wheel of a privately-entered BRM. At the Dutch Grand Prix, at Zandvoort, a brake system failure on the poorly-prepared BRM caused the most serious accident of his career, breaking his arm, killing a young spectator and instilling in him a longstanding distrust of engineers. The accident also caused him to make a change in his driving style that later paid dividends: his tendency to use his brakes more sparingly than his rivals meant that they lasted longer, especially in endurance races. Gurney was known to give the brake pedal a reassuring tap just before hard application — a habit Gurney himself jokingly referred to as "the chicken-shit school of braking."
Gurney was particularly noted for an exceptionally fluid driving style. On rare occasions, as when his car fell behind with minor mechanical troubles and he felt he had nothing to lose, he would abandon his classic technique and adopt a more aggressive (and riskier) style. This circumstance produced what many observers consider the finest driving performance of his career, when a punctured tyre put him nearly two laps down halfway through the 1967 Rex Mays 300 Indycar race at Riverside, California. He produced an inspired effort, made up the deficit and won the race with a dramatic last-lap pass of runner-up Bobby Unser.
1961 - 1962
After rules changes came in effect in 1961, he teamed with Jo Bonnier for the first full season of the factory Porsche team, scoring three second places. He came very close to scoring a maiden victory at Reims, France in 1961, but Gurney's reluctance to block Ferrari driver Giancarlo Baghetti (a move Gurney regarded as dangerous and unsportsmanlike) allowed Baghetti to pass him on the finish line for the win.After Porsche introduced a better car in 1962 with an 8-cylinder engine, Gurney broke through at the French Grand Prix at Rouen-Les-Essarts with his first World Championship victory - the only GP win for Porsche as an F1 constructor. One week later, he repeated the success in a non-Championship F1 race in front of Porsche's home crowd at Stuttgart's Solitude race track. Due to the high costs of racing in F1, Porsche did not continue after the 1962 season. While with Porsche, Gurney met a team public relations executive named Evi Butz, and they married several years later.
1963 - 1965
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 for his car at the 1963 Solitude race, it was Gurney again who took the team's first win in a championship race, in 1964, again at 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.
1966 - 1968
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. Goodyear's president Victor Holt (himself a former college All-American basketball player) suggested the name, "All American Racers", and the team was formed in 1965. Gurney was not comfortable with the name at first, fearing it sounded somewhat jingoistic, but felt compelled to agree to his benefactor's suggestion.
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'. The car has often been characterised as a primarily British-based effort, but in recent interviews Gurney has been very clear that the car was designed and built by crew members based in the All-American Racers Southern California-based facility. 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 outdated four-cylinder 2.7-litre Coventry-Climax engines and made their first appearance in the second race of the year in Belgium. This was the race of the sudden torrential downpour captured in the feature film Grand Prix, and although Gurney completed the race in seventh place, he was judged too far back to be classified as a finisher. Gurney scored the team's first Championship points three weeks later 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. A muffed start left Gurney deep in the field at the end of the first lap. 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.
With his victory in the Eagle-Weslake at the 1967 Belgian Grand Prix, Gurney earned the distinction of being the only driver in history to score maiden Grand Prix victories for three different manufacturers: Porsche, Brabham and his own All-American Racers.
Unfortunately, the victory in Belgium was the high point for AAR as engine problems continued to plague the Eagle. Despite the antiquated engine tooling used by the Weslake factory (dating from World War I), failures rarely stemmed from the engine design itself, but more often from unreliable peripheral systems like fuel pumps, fuel injection and the oil delivery system. He led the 1967 German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring when a driveshaft failed two laps from the end with a 42-second lead in hand. 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.
Formula One resultsEdit
Complete Formula One World Championship resultsEdit
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position; races in italics indicate fastest lap)