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Hooniverse Asks: Who’s your personal hero from the world of motorsport?

Jeff Glucker January 15, 2018 Hooniverse Asks 30 Comments

A legend amongst legends, Dan Gurney won at every level of motorsport. Had you put him in a rally car or a super stadium truck, he probably would’ve won there as well. Gurney was the sort of race car driver that other drivers aspire to be. I say was because Dan Gurney passed away yesterday at the age of 86.

There is praise that’s flowing in from every corner of the Internet. Many of it comes from top-flight drivers who call Gurney their own personal driving hero. It’s not a surprise to see that written out by some of the all-time greats of motorsport, of course. Gurney was a man that could drive anything with wheels, and drive it fast and to victory.

So this leads me to a question for today… who in the world of motorsport do you consider a hero to you?

  • neight428
    • Victor

      Persistence.

  • Victor

    Watched Cale Yarborough win the 1977 Daytona 500 , my only trip to a major race track It was a great race. Worked for a newspaper in Florida and had press credentials. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/aed478a34e2b0c095304b8440ee13e511f37b8f11277c5ec9beaffce41f08637.jpg

    • Victor

      Took some pictures for the paper , but not that one.

    • dukeisduke

      Growing up in the ’60s and ’70s, I was a Cale Yarborough fan, too.

      • Victor

        Them old boys grew up on the Hard banging dirt tracks of the southern states.

  • Paul Van Valkenburgh

  • Alff

    Kurt Guehr

  • P161911

    A few:
    Carroll Smith (Engineer to Win, etc. and long time FSAE judge)
    Mark Donahue
    Roger Penske
    A. J. Foyt
    Smokey Yunick
    Paul Newman
    Johnny O’Connell for a somewhat personal reason. One, I’m a huge Corvette fan. Two, several years ago at a vintage race at Road Atlanta Johnny was going to lead the parade laps for the Corvettes, directly behind the pace car. At this time, it was really laid back, basically if you had a Corvette, get in line and get to drive a few laps around the track. It wasn’t supposed to be “at speed”, but is wasn’t supposed to be snail’s pace either. Apparently the driver of the pace car was not happy about having to do parade laps and missing his lunch hour, so he proceeds to lead several dozen Corvettes around the track at about 30mph. By about turn 7 Johnny had had enough of that and proceeds to “tap” the pace car with his new Corvette and zoom away. Eventually the situation got straightened out and we all got a couple of laps at 50-70mph.

  • dukeisduke

    A few: Cale Yarborough, AJ Foyt, Phil Hill, Mario Andretti, Sebastien Loeb, and Carlos Sainz.

  • dukeisduke

    Few have been able to succeed in multiple types of racing, the way that Gurney did; AJ Foyt and Parnelli Jones come to mind. A few have attempted it in the modern era, like Seb Loeb and Juan Pablo Montoya, but they haven’t quite gotten there.

    • P161911

      Robby Gordon could probably be added to the modern list too. He had wins in Trans-Am, Daytona 24, Sebring 12, Baja, Indycar, and Nascar. No great success except in the off road stuff.

    • Victor

      Saab car so can we assume he is waiting for a tow truck ?

      • No, when he was waiting for a tow truck he wasn’t subtle about it.

        http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/03329/66903175_3329999b.jpg

        • Victor

          Damn !

          • outback_ute

            There is a reason why på taket followed his name – it is his nickname “on the roof”.

            The earlier photo would have been at the end of an event, with the advertising banners, and likely the 1962 Monte Carlo Rally that he won

  • Dutch

    Big Daddy Don Garlits
    Bob Glidden
    Lee Sheperd
    Kenny Bernstein

    and of course,
    John Force

  • SlowJoeCrow

    John Surtees, still the only man with both an F1 title and a MotoGP title.
    Also John Buffum and Malcolm Smith

    • outback_ute

      Yet another achievement that will probably never be equalled

  • I was lucky enough to watch my hero Sterling Moss race at Le Mans with Graham Hill in a Ferrari 250 GT SWB in 1961. In the same race was a whole list of my favorite drivers of my youth including Phil Hill, the Rodriguez brothers, Dan Gurney, Ritchie Ginther, Jim Clark, Bruce Mclaren just to name a few. It was a rare privilege to see such all around drivers like Phil Hill and Dan Gurney at the same time.

  • Scubie

    Adding to the list of Kiwis (after Burt)…
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6e2ce05c9be9c6471c851a8683760a14a2023b7dcf0425e87cb00a7f06d6ffb6.jpg
    Possum Bourne
    Denny Hulme
    Bruce McLaren
    Chris Amon
    And more recently:
    Scott Dixon
    Mitch Evans
    Brendon Hartley
    Scott McLaughlin
    And so many more… Call me parochial, but for a small country at the bottom of the earth, we box above our weight in the motor racing game…

    • outback_ute

      Similarly I would nominate Jack Brabham, for unequalled achievements in motorsport.

  • 0A5599
  • alex

    Ayrton Senna.

  • crank_case

    Gurney genuinely would have been my favorite motorsport hero, not simply because he could drive, but he was a real car guy/inventor too. The only man to win a Grand Prix in a car he built.

    • outback_ute

      Not the only man – Jack Brabham did it too and won the championship.

  • Spin

    Never got to see him race, but the stories I have heard from my father, cousin, and various books/videos, I would have to say Gilles Villeneuve.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/248c02ad6ac1999e358f88cc5d7b14d4467f8a338454b7c5950ab23a1a166c08.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/58d160b113bedbae1c2ac732160babe061d0f3104ccf7482384e498d23358117.jpg

  • tonyola

    Lots of great entries here. I’d like to add the late Briggs Cunningham – the true “gentleman sportsman” with extensive racing experience.. Not only did he build and raced a series of legendary sports cars under his own name, but he drove a purpose-built Cadillac roadster (“Le Monstre”) in the 1950 LeMans. Oh, and he won the America’s Cup yacht race. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/067af5bde28601e68880a258fdf562c7068a559839283c95cd49d34ba034857d.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/067af5bde28601e68880a258fdf562c7068a559839283c95cd49d34ba034857d.jpg