Memorable MilestonesHide Text
As with most gear heads and car junkies, many of the important moments in my life involve the automotive industry. Whether it pertains to cars, drivers, or racing, the course of my life has been defined by the tragedies and triumphs of an industry which I love. Without being sickeningly effusive, there are a handful of individuals who entered my life for the sake of business and have since become good friends. One such person is Dan Gurney.
Daniel Sexton Gurney was a rising star in racing, with Hollywood good looks, intense focus and a dedication to a sport he loved. He began his professional career in 1955 and for 15 years racked up countless wins and achievements which earned him a well honored and richly deserved place in racing history
Dan initiated the tradition of spraying champagne on the podium when he doused AJ. Foyt at Le Mans in 1967. He is considered one of the most popular F1 Grand Prix drivers ever and is the only American to win a Grand Prix in a car he personally built. He, along with Mario Andretti, is one of two drivers ever to win top prize in the four major racing categories; Grand Prix, Indy Car, NASCAR and Sports Car.
Dan invented the Gurney flap, was instrumental in launching the rear-engine revolution at Indy in 1963, he co-founded the Long Beach Grand Prix, came up with the name and acronym for the Championship Auto Racing Team (CART), is the team owner of All-American Racers and created and manufactures Alligator motorcycles. Dan's achievements are many and varied and since I am not Wikipedia, look to historians and biographers if you want a truly detailed accounting of his life and accomplishments.
As a journalist I respect his talent, but as a friend, I treasure our history. I had been familiar with Dan for years before my mentor and boss at Car and Driver, David E. Davis Jr., nominated Gurney for President in a brilliantly written editorial in May of 1964. Dan accepted his nomination with graciousness and good humor, endearing him to the staff at the magazine.