If you’ve been following motorsport for any amount of time, there is no forgiveness for not knowing about Dan Gurney and his multitude contributions to the industry. Dan was a proponent of safety equipment (like full-face helmets for example), he pioneered aerodynamics with the ‘Gurney flap’, invented the idea of spraying Champagne on the podium (as he won Le Mans for Ford in 1967), provided Grand Prix victories for Porsche, Brabham, and his own All-American Racers, penned the famed White Paper that argued for a convergence of American open-wheel series, and most importantly, he’d drive the wheels off of anything people would let him. Across his career, Dan participated in British touring car races, Formula 1, Can Am, Trans Am, ChampCar/Indy, NASCAR, and much more. He was the first person with major victories in NASCAR, sports cars, and Formula 1, a feat only matched by Mario Andretti and Juan Pablo Montoya.
More than just a racer, Dan also contributed to the sport as a team owner and manufacturer. His team, AAR, was founded in conjunction with Carroll Shelby in 1964, and Dan maintained control of the company through 2011 when he passed it on to his son. In that time, he’d engineered the team to victories in Formula 1, Trans Am (partnered with Plymouth), USAC (including three Indianapolis 500s), and sports cars (partnered with Toyota across the 1980s).
Gurney died Sunday morning at 86 years old due to complications from pneumonia. Our thoughts are with his wife Evi and their sons Dan Jr, Justin, Alex, and Jimmy.