American Racing Legend Dan Gurney Dead at 86

Driver and owner had one of the most diverse and colorful careers ever in motorsport

Dan Gurney, arguably the greatest American race car driver of all time and one of the legends of motorsport, has passed away from complications of pneumonia. He was 86.

Although a native of Port Jefferson, New York, Gurney was also a California guy who won in just about every car and series he drove in, from Trans-Am to Can-Am, NASCAR, Formula 1, and Indy cars. He was the first driver ever to win races in four different disciplines: sports cars (1958), Formula 1 (1962), NASCAR (1963), and Indy cars (1967). Only Mario Andretti and Juan Pablo Montoya have accomplished the same.

Gurney was also one of the GT40 drivers during Ford’s historic run at Le Mans in the 1960s, winning the race with AJ Foyt in 1967. It was after that race that Gurney sprayed champagne from the bottle handed to him, starting a tradition that remains to this day (pictured above). He was the first driver to wear a full-face helmet and is also known for the “Gurney Flap,” a right-angle extension on the upper trailing edge of the rear wing that he designed to help increase downforce.

The week after his Le Mans triumph, Gurney won the Belgian Grand Prix in a car he constructed—the Eagle Mk. 1. Indeed, after his career behind the wheel ended he started a successful second career as a car builder and businessman through his company All American Racers. The team won 78 races in all including the Indianapolis 500, the Rolex 24 at Daytona, and 12 Hours of Sebring, and scored eight championships.

Gurney, who was enshrined into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1990 and is also a member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, is survived by his wife, Evi, and four sons: Justin, Alex, Jimmy, and Dan Jr.

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