Dan Gurney HonoredHide Text
Dan Gurney Honored at the Chrysler-Jeep Wine Country Classic, Sears Point Raceway, May 21-22, 2000 - Dan Gurney Print by, Michael Turner.
Dan Gurney was the featured guest of honor at the charming Wine Country Classic Vintage Car Race at Sears Point. Dan returned to the locale of his last Indy Car victory in April 1970 to celebrate with fans some of the highlights of his driving career. Steve and Debbie Earle, who organized the event, put up a tent where some of the cars which Dan drove were exhibited in style. The beautifully restored vintage racers included a Mercury Cougar (Trans Am 1967), the former 4.9 Arciero-Ferrari sports car racer of the late Fifties, Tom Malloy's Mark IV Le Mans Coupe, (a sister car to the Le Mans 1967 winner), the Lotus 19 of Daytona, Nassau and Mosport fame of the early 1960's and a Formula I Grand Prix Eagle equipped with a 12-cylinder Gurney-Weslake engine, sister car to the Spa winner. Fans lined up for four different one-hour autograph sessions on Saturday and Sunday.
During a party to kick off the weekend on Friday night, Dan, upon hearing of the plan, said, "this will be a short line tomorrow". Well –au contraire! They had to close down the line each time. Despite the 90-plus degree weather, fans, young and old, came from everywhere and brought hats, books, photos, T-shirts, gloves and posters for Dan's signature. Steve Earle had commissioned artist Bill Neale to design a poster for the occasion, which featured Dan winning in the Arciero Ferrari. It became a popular item over the weekend. Also very popular was the AAR Cuda driven in the vintage Trans-Am race by Gary Savage in memory of Swede. Many top people from Chrysler were there to cheer on the car, which was built by AAR for Chrysler Plymouth in 1970 and has now, 30 years later, a substantial following.
The charming weekend among friends ended with Dan presenting the trophies to the various race winners. As a special bonus on the podium he doused Steve Page, president of Sears Point Raceway and Steve Earle with a terrific champagne shower. Here are some photographs of the weekend by Ian Donald: