Farewell to Dan Gurney – the F1 legend whose feats will never be repeated

Scott Pryce Roar Rookie

By Scott Pryce, Scott Pryce is a Roar Rookie

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    Former Grand Prix winner Dan Gurney passed away on January 14, in California, aged 86.

    Dan would strap on his helmet, hop into whatever he was racing, and he was at home.

    Born into a well-educated and successful family, it wasn’t until his family relocated to Riverside, California, that he became interested in motor racing.

    He would become a driver, constructor and team owner.

    His success covered many forms of motorsport, including Formula One, NASCAR, Indycar, Can Am and Trans Am. Dan became the first drivers – and ultimately one of only three – who achieved wins in sports cars, F1, NASCAR, and Indycars.

    A hint of his talents showed when he was drafted into the Ferrari F1 team, debuting in the 1959 French Grand Prix. Although he retired from this race, he went on to score two podiums in the next three Grands Prix he competed in for 1959.

    He wasn’t the first nor last talented driver not suited to Enzo Ferrari’s ways of running a race team and moved to BRM for the following season.

    In the 1960 Dutch Grand Prix, Dan’s car suffered brake failure, causing him to crash, which killed a spectator. This incident shook him badly, seeing him adopt a safety-first approach.

    An example of how Dan regarded safety since the accident was when, instead of blocking Giancarlo Baghetti as he tried to overtake him on the finish line in the 1961 French Grand Prix, he sportingly allowed Baghetti to win the race. Baghetti is the only driver to date to win on debut.

    Dan’s first win had to wait until the following season’s French Grand Prix, at Rouen. This win also became the first – and only – win for Porsche in F1.

    Two years later, again at Rouen, Dan have Brabham its first win.

    In 1967, Dan won that season’s Belgian Grand Prix in his own Eagle-Westlake, becoming the only driver to date to give three marques their first win.

    Dan was instrumental in helping the McLaren team remain closely gelled and focused after the death of their team leader, Bruce McLaren, in 1970.

    It was a huge compliment and no doubt inspiration when Jim Clark’s father told Dan at his son’s funeral that he was the only driver Jim was concerned about.

    On a lighter side, Dan’s popularity among his legion of fans almost convinced him to run for the presidency of the United States. In hindsight, with Donald Trump’s recent victory, it probably wasn’t a bad idea.

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    The Crowd Says (1)

    • Roar Guru

      January 19th 2018 @ 10:24pm
      Jawad Yaqub said | January 19th 2018 @ 10:24pm | ! Report

      Hey Scott, an awesome tribute you have here.

      Gurney was another one of those greats whose career transcended beyond F1 and if there’s one thing that should be missed about the past, it’s not the cars or the noise or any of that – but indeed how these drivers could race pretty much everywhere. Then you’ve got individuals such as Gurney, who go into the Brabham, McLaren and Surtees book of great, in that they even managed their own teams.

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