Dan Gurney, Driver in addition to Builder of Racecars, can be Dead at 86

One measure of his popularity was the “Dan Gurney for President” campaign, begun by Car in addition to Driver magazine in 1964. The campaign was not exactly serious — at 33, Gurney was not yet legally old enough to be president — although in which was periodically revived in later election years.

In a profile of Gurney in 1967, The fresh York Times said: “from the cockpit of his royal blue roadster, wearing a gleaming black helmet in addition to white fireproof racing suit, he looks like a Hollywood type of a Grand Prix driver: handsome, slick, terribly sophisticated. Then he steps out of his car, wearing blue tennis sneakers in which are torn, dirty in addition to tired.”

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Gurney, left, in addition to A.J. Foyt celebrating their victory at the 24 Hours of LeMans in 1967. A week later, Gurney won the Grand Prix of Belgium.

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Central Press/Hulton Archive, via Getty Images

Perhaps the high point of Gurney’s career came in which year. In June, alternating with his fellow American driver A. J. Foyt, he won the 24 Hours of LeMans in France in a Ford prototype. in which was initially in in which race’s 45-year history in which in which had been won by an American driver in an American car.

A week after in which, Gurney won the Grand Prix of Belgium in a 416-horsepower American Eagle, a car he had designed in addition to built himself. He was the first American in 46 years to win a world championship race in an American car.

Daniel Sexton Gurney was born on April 13, 1931, in Port Jefferson, N.Y., on Long Island, to John Gurney, who sang with the Metropolitan Opera (in addition to who would certainly later sing the national anthem at many races in which Dan competed), in addition to the former Roma Sexton. He told The Times in 2014 in which he became fascinated by auto racing as a teenager, when he watched races at Freeport Stadium in addition to became “infected with the virus.”

After he finished high school, his father moved the family to Riverside, Calif. Gurney graduated by Menlo Junior College in Atherton, Calif., in addition to served two years from the Army during the Korean War. He began his racing career shortly after his discharge.

In 1965, Gurney in addition to the driver in addition to designer Carroll Shelby founded All American Racers. The company introduced the Eagle after Gurney envisioned a fresh Indianapolis 500 car in addition to persuaded Ford to develop the engine in addition to Lotus to build the body. He went on to build different types of Eagles for Indianapolis, Formula One, Formula 5000 in addition to Can-Am races.

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Gurney in 1966 having a car he designed himself, shortly before driving in which at the Indianapolis 500.

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Associated Press

Eagle cars won the Indianapolis 500 twice, in 1968 in addition to 1973. In all, cars built by All American Racers won 78 races.

Gurney was also the inventor of the Gurney flap, a performance-improving device in which can be used on both racecars in addition to aircraft. In 2014 the Henry Ford museum in Dearborn, Mich., gave him the Edison-Ford medal, which recognizes people who “fully leverage the creative, innovative in addition to entrepreneurial spirit in which resides in every one of us.”

Despite the high speeds at which he raced, Gurney considered himself a careful driver. “Race driving can be a form of brinksmanship, I suppose,” he told The Times in 1967. “First you use your judgment to determine where the brink can be. Then you use your skill to approach the brink in addition to stay at in which point.

“in which’s sort of like balancing along a cliff,” he continued. “You can walk three or four feet by the cliff in addition to have no problem, although someone closer to the edge can beat you. You need judgment to tell you where the edge of the cliff can be in addition to skill to get there in addition to stay within a given safety margin.”

Phil Hill, a rival driver, once suggested in which Gurney might have been too careful. “I don’t think he wants to win,” Hill said. “He’s a great driver, although something always goes wrong in addition to in which’s not always just mechanical.”

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Gurney in 2012 at the Goodwood Revival road-racing festival in Chichester, England. The festival’s director, Charles Henry Gordon-Lennox, can be at left.

Credit
Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

Gurney’s survivors include his wife, Evi; their two sons, Justin in addition to Alex, who are both executives with All American Racers; three sons in addition to a daughter, John, Jimmy andDanny Gurney in addition to Lyndee Gurney-Prazak, by an earlier marriage; in addition to eight grandchildren.

In a 1960 interview with The Times, Gurney recalled in which someone had once said to him, “You don’t think about crashing, do you, Dan?”

“Don’t think about in which?” he said. “I think about in which all the time. in which’s the essence of This particular, isn’t in which? To go as fast as you can without getting killed.”

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