Edison-Ford Medal

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Dan Gurney Wins the Edison-Ford Medal

The Henry Ford Museum paid tribute to racing legend Dan Gurney on Wednesday night, Oct. 29 during a special ceremony at the Museum, awarding him the Edison-Ford Medal for his ingenuity and lifetime of innovative achievements...


Watch a tribute film put together for the occasion, with narration by NBC News' Brian Williams.

Think back to the “good old days” back before the Internet, when people did things spontaneously, not for the sake of trying to get attention or trying to get “hits” on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. In 1967, Dan Gurney stood atop the podium following his amazing win with fellow driver A.J. Foyt after they easily topped the field at Le Mans in their spectacular Ford GT40 Mark IV, a car that reached unheard of top speeds of 213mph on the circuit. Dan-GroupGurney, always the thinking man – inside and outside the car, thought to himself that the fans, media and mechanics should be able to share his win, Foyt’s win and Ford’s win as he gazed down from atop the podium.

What Gurney did next has been copied tens of thousands of times at race tracks and other sporting events worldwide. But on that special day he spontaneously sprayed the cheering masses with champagne in an unprecedented display of raw emotion. It’s a tradition that has been copied and talked about ever since. Imagine how social media would have loved that moment had it occurred for the first time in 2014! As recounted in RACER's exclusive 7-part video series, Dan Gurney: All American Racer, presented by Bell (click here to watch the series now), Gurney’s legacy in motorsports goes far beyond the cheers and champagne of Le Mans ’67 however. Gurney’s first experience behind the wheel of a racecar was in 1955 and by the time he retired from the cockpit 15 years later, his record was truly amazing. He had raced in 312 events in 20 countries for 51 different marques (more than 100 different models of car) and won 51 races. Gurney scored victories in four major categories: Indy cars, Formula 1 cars, NASCAR stock cars and sports cars. He won the 1967 Grand Prix of Belgium in an Eagle Gurney-Westlake V12, a car he helped design and build. He was twice runner-up in the Indianapolis 500.

Following his retirement as a driver, he took on the role of car manufacturer and team owner of All American Racers. His Eagles won the Indianapolis 500 three times – twice with Bobby Unser, 1968 and ’75 (with Gurney as the team owner) and Gordon Johncock triumphed in a Pat Patrick-run Eagle at Indy in ’73. Cars built and designed by AAR also won the 12 Hours of Sebring and 24 Hours of Daytona. The multi-dimensional Gurney was the first to introduce a full-faced helmet (Bell) to Indy car and F1 racing in the late 1960s. In 2002 Gurney 2002 engineered a revolutionary motorcycle called the "Alligator". Little wonder that this forward-thinking man was, at one point in his career, considered by some to be suitable for the White House! In the 1960s, Car and Driver magazine launched a “Dan Gurney for President” campaign. Every race fan can only dream what might have been…

But on Wednesday night in Dearborn, Michigan, Gurney was center stage at the Henry Ford Museum with a hallway full of past Presidential limousines as part of the amazing backdrop as racing dignitaries past and present, industry leaders, media members, friends and most importantly Gurney’s family witnessed his latest honor. For only the second time since 1989, the Edison-Ford Medal of Innovation was awarded. In 1989 Dr. W. Edwards Deming, the father of quality evolution was honored, and Wednesday night, Dan Gurney, the man who’s been a hero, inspiration and innovator in racing, was recognized with the honor for his “wide-ranging curiosity and hands-on approach.” “This is truly an amazing, humbling award,” said Gurney. “It is a great legacy to be part of this award – the names Edison and Ford say it all. Because of them, so many things we do today are easy and possible. They were pioneers, they made the USA a great place.”

See Also: Dan's The Man - Dan Gurney Honored With Edison-Ford Medal - By Jim Mccraw