Morning Qualifying – Everybody's All American (Racer) edition

The birthday boy at Sebring, 1966. Photo by Dave Friedman/Copyright Ford Motorsport Archive

Today is Daniel Sexton Gurney’s 80th birthday. If asked to list the top 5 American race car drivers of all time, Dan Gurney is inevitably on that list.  Here’s a list of things you might not know about Dan Gurney:

Dan's father, John Gurney, the Harvard educated opera singer.

Dan Gurney’s father, John, attended Oberlin College and Harvard Business School, and sang with the Metropolitan Opera in New York for more than 2 decades.  After he retired from the Met in 1947, John moved his family to Riverside, California where he pursued a career as a portrait artist and a designer and builder of  furniture.
The number 48, which adorned many of Dan Gurney’s race cars, was Dan’s tribute to NFL Hall of Famer and former Los Angeles Ram, Les Richter, the one-time owner of Riverside International Raceway.
Dan Gurney is one of two drivers to achieve victory in Formula 1, Sports Cars, Indy Cars, and Stock/Touring Cars.  Mario Andretti is the other.
Dan Gurney remains the only American to achieve a Formula 1 victory in a car of his own design, and the only F1 competitor to achieve the maiden victory for 3 different constructors (Porsche, Brabham and Eagle-AAR).
In 88 Formula 1 starts, Dan had 4 wins (1962 and 1964 French Grand Prix, 1964 Mexican Grand Prix and the 1967 Belgian Grand Prix), 16 podium finishes and 133 championship points (tying him with Sterling Moss on the all-time F1 list).  In addition, Dan had 3 additional victories at non F1 races ran to Formula 1 rules (1961 Ballarat Gold Star race, 1962 Solitude GP, and the 1967 Race of Champions at Brands Hatch).
In USAC/Indy cars, Dan achieved 7 victories and 16 podium finishes in 30 races.
In NASCAR, Dan won the Motor Trend 500 at Riverside International Raceway 5 times (1963, 1964, 1965, 1966 and 1968) and had 3 additional podium finishes in 16 starts.  Dan also had owns 1 victory in 12 SCCA/Trans-Am series starts and 1 victory in 3 British Saloon Car Championship starts; to my knowledge, Dan Gurney is the only American with a BSCC/BTCC victory.
In 44 World Sports Car Championship events, Gurney had 5 overall victories (1959 Sebring 12 hrs 1959, 1960 ADAC-Nurburgring 1000km, 1962 Daytona 3 hours,  1963 Bridgehampton 500 and 1967 24 Hours of LeMans) and 5 class victories  (1961 Targa Florio, 1962 Sebring 12 hrs, 1964 24 Hours of LeMans, 1964 Targa Florio and the 1964 RAC Tourist Trophy at Goodwood).  Gurney also tallied 3 wins and a podium finish in 24 Can-Am Challenge series starts.  Also, Dan Gurney was the USAC National Road Racing champion in 1958.
Dan Gurney and Brock Yates won the inaugural Canonball Baker Sea-to-Shining Sea Memorial Trophy Dash in 1971, traveling from mid-town Manhattan to the Portifino Inn in Redando Beach, California in 33 hours and 54 minutes in a Ferrari 365 GTB.
After retiring from driving, Gurney and his AAR racing team would continue their winning ways with 15 USAC victories (including the 1974 drivers championship for Bobby Unser) and 51 victories in IMSA GTO, GTU and GTP racing between 1983 and 1993 (including drivers and constructors championships in 1987, 1992 and 1993).  In addition, Gurney Eagle customers would win another USAC championship (Bobby Unser in 1968) and two SCCA Formula A championships (Dr. Lou Sell in 1968 and Tony Adamowicz in 1969).
Happy birthday, Mr. Gurney!
Dan Gurney at the 1962 Dutch Grand Prix. Photo by Bernard Cahier/Copyright The Cahier Archive

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  1. BGW Avatar

    Gurney's efforts helped turn the stagnant Indy car circuit into the worldwide power that CART became in the late '80s and '90s.
    <img src="; width="499/">

    1. scroggzilla Avatar

      It looks even better in profile!
      <img src="; width="500" height="366" alt="67 canadian gp dan gurney eagle-weslake t1">

  2. tonyola Avatar

    Back in the '60s, Car and Driver promoted Dan for President.
    <img src="; width=400>

    1. engineerd Avatar

      There's a car parked by an apartment building around the corner from my house with one of these stickers on it. I smile each time I see it.

  3. $kaycog Avatar

    And let's not forget the Gurney Bump!
    <img src=""width="500"/&gt;

    1. dwegmull Avatar

      So what's the reason behind the right hand wheelness of the GT40?

      1. tonyola Avatar

        It was built in England by Ford Advanced Vehicles, Ltd. While the GT-40 is often referred to as American by virtue of its name and US-sourced drivetrain, in many ways it was really English.

    2. Jennings R. Scroggs, Jr. Avatar
      Jennings R. Scroggs, Jr.

      As I was putting this together, I read a quote attributed to Dan which stated that, particularly during Formula One's 1.5 liter era, his height created such increased aerodynamic drag that he felt he was at a disadvantage versus other drivers. Looking at the shot of Dan at the 62 Dutch GP, he might have been onto something.
      <img src="; width="500" height="375" alt="66 lemans 24hrs dan gurney ford gt40 mk2">

      1. Thrashy Avatar

        Through high school, Dan was always my favorite driver because he showed that even 6'3" goliaths like me could compete in F1. Obviously I'm not driving in F1 right now, but I'd still name him as my favorite driver of all time.

  4. dukeisduke Avatar

    Happy birthday to Dan, and I hope he and his lovely wife Evi have a wonderful day.

  5. paul_allen Avatar

    Dan gurney made the GT-40 the best American race car of all time. He is a great racer and visionary for the sport of racing. God bless Dan and all the Gurney-Westlake GT-40's still alive today.

  6. richard Avatar

    "Dan Gurney is one of two drivers to achieve victory in Formula 1, Sports Cars, Indy Cars, and Stock/Touring Cars. Mario Andretti is the other."
    What about Juan Montoya?

    1. Jennings R. Scroggs, Jr. Avatar
      Jennings R. Scroggs, Jr.

      You are absolutely right. I completely blanked on JPM.

  7. Scott Avatar

    And the Gurney Flap!

  8. joshuman Avatar

    The Gurney flap, named for Dan, is another important aerodynamic improvement. Anything that helps a car go faster around a corner is a good thing. It has to do with keeping the boundary layer attached Engineered or wikipedia can explain further.

  9. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    Also, Dan was developer of the Gurney Alligator motorcycle.
    <img src="; width="500">

  10. Tomsk Avatar

    Fun fact: Gurney's last professional race as a driver was the 1980 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season opener at his beloved Riverside International Raceway. He ran as high as third before retiring (in both senses of the word) with gearbox failure.
    His car owner was Rod Osterlund, and his teammate was some 28-year-old kid from a North Carolina mill town who would go on to win his first title at year's end.
    <img src="; width="500" />

  11. parkwood60 Avatar

    When he raced stock cars at Riverside in 63 or 64 he set a track record that was a full second faster than the Corvette, while driving a NASCAR prepped Impala. An older friend of mine who grew up out here in California in the 60-70s claims something ridiculous like Gurney lapped the entire NASCAR field, then ran out of gas, passed everyone again and still managed to win the race in the end.