Dan Gurney

Birthday : 1931-04-13
Deceased :  January 14 2018

Biography Dan Gurney

Dan Gurney 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, Porsche 804, Rouen-les-Essarts, 1962
Dan Gurney, Porsche 804, Rouen-les-Essarts, 1962

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 tire 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.

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 at 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.

Dan Gurney lived in Newport Beach California. He passed away just before noon on Sunday January 14th 2018 from complications related to pneumonia.