Dan Gurney

2021-03-07 23:00

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Dan Gurney

Dan Gurney was born on April 13, 1931 in Port Jefferson, a small village in the state of New York, in the county of Suffolk, from the union between hi


Dan Gurney was born on April 13, 1931 in Port Jefferson, a small village in the state of New York, in the county of Suffolk, from the union between his mother, Roma Sexton, and his father, Jack Gurney, a graduate of Harvard in economics. The latter had a career as a musician at the Metropolitan in New York, but later made the decision to devote himself to agriculture and buy a arable field on the west coast. Dan's true passion will be inherited by his three uncles, graduates of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in engineering.


The young Dan begins to devote himself to cars once he arrives in California, where, while still a teenager, he moved with his family in 1948. While on the east coast the NASCAR apparatus founded by Bill France Sr. to give a codified structure begins to develop oval track racing, at nineteen, on the west coast, Gurney built cars, and in particular Hot Rods to be taken to the Bonneville Speedway, the Bonneville Salt Lake area dedicated to land speed records. Here he meets Phil Remington, one of the pioneers of hotrods, and they will remain friends for life, so much so that the latter will also be involved in the Ford GT40 project and in the AAR.


"I started with hotrods because it was the only thing you could do in that location, you were able to put together a car starting from waste from landfills".


Dan's first car is a Ford Model A modified with a Ford V8 Flathead, with which he hits 210 km/h in Bonneville. With his cars he will then reach the maximum speed of about 222 km/h, but in the meantime, with the car of his friend Skip Hudson, he will reach 209 km/h beating him on the maximum speed. Racing at Bonneville will become the springboard for Gurney's racing career.


Taking advantage of the California racing environment, Dan soon begins to make a name for himself: every car he drives becomes fast with him behind the wheel, so much so that years later Jim Clark will admit that he fears nothing but his driving prowess. In the meantime, the American driver begins his university studies at Menlo Junior College in Atherton, but will soon find himself enlisted in the Marines and forced to carry out military service during the Korean War, having to temporarily put his career on hold.


In Korea, Gurney was assigned to mechanical artillery, and remained there until the end of the war, which arrived by armistice on July 27, 1953. Back home, Dan found a job in an aluminum factory in exchange for a salary of just over a dollar per hour, but in the meantime he returns to devote himself to cars and racing and in 1955 he participates in his first professional race driving a Triumph TR2 in Torrey Pines, in San Diego county, which finishes in tenth place. Soon Dan goes to the bank to ask for a loan: so, with the little money of his work and a mortgage, the young man buys a Porsche Speedster.


He would then have a car but not a plan or financing, and the money would soon run out. But here fate comes to meet him: shortly after, in Willow Springs, he is observing the tests of two drivers on a Corvette, and seeing that with difficulty they manage to record acceptable times, Gurney decides to help them and in a few laps he obtains the record of category. This episode causes Cal Bailey to notice him and offer him to drive the Corvette at the inauguration of the Riverside circuit in 1957: in this race, Dan dominates in his category against much more prestigious and powerful cars, such as the Mercedes 300SL, and impresses the builder Bailey works for. Frank Arciero, owner of a 4.9-liter Ferrari which, rebuilt after an accident, was no longer fluid as before, asks Gurney to work on it in Willow Springs, to find a new way to drive it; again, in a few laps Gurney sets the category record.


At this point Dan is faced with a choice: his factory is willing to promote him, with a consequent increase in salary, if he had given up racing forever; not being a professional, giving up a stable job would have been a gamble. At the same time, however, Gurney realizes that he has all the possibilities to run at a high level. Despite his height of well over the average, a full five feet and ninety-five centimeters, Dan learns to adapt to racing cars and manages to keep his physique from becoming limiting for his career. In this regard, Dan modifies the cars he drives by creating the Gurney Bubble, a camber on the car roof that allows him to sit more easily in the cockpit. The adventure as a professional driver began in 1958: Luigi Chinetti, the first Ferrari dealer in America, and owner of the North American Racing Team, had noticed him in several races and kept an eye on him, so informs Enzo Ferrari.


Dan is invited to participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans by the NART team, which for the occasion brings a Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa to drive together with fellow countryman Bruce Kessler. Gurney agrees, but is forced to retire after seven hours, on lap 64, due to an accident. During his turn, Kessler hit Brussin's Jaguar D-Type that had gone off the track at the Dunlop corner. Brussin will lose his life, while Kessler, thrown out of the car, will suffer burns and fractures but will recover. Then he drives a Ferrari again at the 12 Hours of Reims, with a 250 GT paired with Andrè Guelfi, but again he will be forced to retire while in second place. However, in the same year he won the USAC Road Racing Championship driving a Ferrari 290 MM despite not getting any victory, but conquering the title of champion thanks to his perseverance. During 1958 Dan will also participate in various races with sports cars, driving for Osca and Jaguar, and in Modena he will carry out a test with the Maserati 250F. Then, however, Ferrari calls him after the tragic death of Collins and Musso and the retirement of Hawthorn.


Gurney tests a car with a two-liter, a three-liter and a Formula 1 engine in Modena, then a Testa Rossa in Monza, equalling the time of Ferrari test driver, Martino Severi; these results impressed Enzo Ferrari, to the point of pushing him to want him as official driver for the 1959 season. Originally Dan was only supposed to race in sports car races, with Brooks, Behra, fellow countryman Phil Hill, Gendebien and Allison; but he will also make his debut in Formula 1. Meanwhile, the debut with sports cars takes place at the 12 Hours of Sebring. Four people share the Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa: in addition to Dan there are Chuck Daigh, Phil Hill and Olivier Gendebien, and at the finish line the car is the absolute first.


Then he participates again in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, this time for the Ferrari factory team, sharing the car with Jean Behra, but the two are forced to retire after the first hours due to a gearbox problem. At Monza the opportunity for Gurney to carry out a test with the Ferrari 246 F1, used as the basis for the development of the new 258, in battle with the rear-engined Formula 1, still in the pioneering phase. Gurney starts testing, and after ten laps a new set of front tires are fitted to his car. The American driver launches on the track in search of the record time to impress the team, but ends his lap against the wall at the Parabolica; Dan is not injured, but the car is wrecked. Despite this, the sensational time was marked: the American driver managed to match the much more experienced Jean Behra.


On the occasion of the French Grand Prix, held in Reims on 5 July 1959, Dan makes his first appearance in the Formula 1 circus, in his 22nd race as a professional. On the French circuit Gurney qualified twelfth, but in the race he was forced to retire due to a problem with the radiator during the nineteenth lap. Dan will not participate in the race held in Great Britain, at Silverstone, but will have the opportunity to make up for it a month later at the German Grand Prix, on the very fast AVUS circuit, where at the end of qualifying he is third behind Tony Brooks and Stirling Moss. After a duel with Tony Brooks and Masten Gregory, at the finish Gurney is second, and he gets his first podium in Formula 1 in his second race.


"I knew that all the unknowns of the circuit lay on the elevated section, the most delicate and dangerous in case of loss of control".


In fact, brick flooring is problematic for car management. In Indianapolis more than twenty years earlier the bricks had been replaced with asphalt, except for the characteristic Brickyard, and not surprisingly, the AVUS flyover will be demolished a few years later. Only two weeks will pass between the AVUS race and the Portuguese Grand Prix, which takes place on the Rampa do Monsanto, a city track used in Formula 1 only for these occasions. Gurney, sixth in qualifying, will do nothing in the race against an exceptional Stirling Moss, who at the finish double all, but the American giant is third at the end of the race, behind his compatriot Gregory. At the Italian Grand Prix Gurney is in the lead, but loses positions due to some mistakes made during the pit stop; he will finish in fourth place.


In 1960 Dan continues to race in Formula 1, but moves to B.R.M. However, the cars of the British team, powered by the Climax engine, report poor results: Gurney's best placement is a sixth place at Oulton Park in an extra-championship race, and he will reach the finish line on two other occasions, seizing the tenth place at Silverstone and seventh at Brands Hatch, in the Silver City Trophy, a race not valid for the championship, driving a Cooper T51. Adding up the results of Hill, Bonnier and Gurney, the B.R.M. P48 will record seventeen retreats and six finishers. In particular, the problems for Gurney are represented by the broken suspension in Monaco, the brakes in Zandvoort, engine problems in Spa, Reims and Boavista, and mechanical problems in Riverside.


In the same year Dan Gurney participates again in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, driving a Jaguar E2A Prototype, paired with Hansgen, but is forced to retire for the third consecutive time due to mechanical problems. At 1000 Kilometers of the Nurburgring, Dan shares a Maserati Tipo 61 with the English ace Stirling Moss: at the gearbox, the British is in the lead and has a one-minute advantage, but after a few laps Gurney is forced to pit for a loss of oil. When he starts again, despite having lost some positions, he regains the lead of the race and gives the car back to Moss, who takes it to the finish line in first place overall.


Meanwhile, Dan did not abandon USAC racing, and in 1961 he finished twice on the podium with a Lotus 19 Montecarlo. In the World Sportscar Championship he is instead behind the wheel of a Porsche 718 RS. And again in 1964, despite finishing more than four minutes late, Gurney and Bonnier are second in the Targa Florio. At the 24 Hours of Le Mans, however, the same couple was forced to retire again, this time due to an engine problem. In Formula 1 Dan's career continues with Porsche, and the season is more rewarding than the previous one, also thanks to the fact that this car, unlike the B.R.M., is able to complete the races. While not the fastest car, this one has a reliable four-cylinder in-line engine, with which the American feels safer to push in the race than the old Climax.


Gurney remains dry of victories, but is always at the finish line and three times - France, Italy and the United States - climbs on the podium. At the end of the year he will be fourth in the championship (third for points, equal with Moss who instead recorded more wins), and this will be his best final position, equalled only in 1965 with Brabham. In races not valid for the championship, he is second at the Syracuse Grand Prix, while he gets third place in Solitude and Modena. 1962 is also a golden year: the season opens with the victory in the 3 Hours of Daytona, where he drives a Lotus 19 for Frank Arciero, and with the same car he runs the USAC Road Racing Championship finishing second in the championship, with five victories and six podiums in nine races. Meanwhile he also made his debut in NASCAR, finishing fourth in his first race aboard a Ford.


In Formula 1 Dan decides to stay with Porsche, as the car is updated with a flat eight-cylinder engine. Gurney gets along very well with the team, managing to reconcile moments of work and relaxation with the mechanics. On the occasion of the French Grand Prix, which takes place in Rouen, Dan exploits the mistakes of others to find himself in command of the race and crosses the finish line first, despite having started sixth, scoring what is up to now the only Posche victory in a Grand Prix valid for the Formula 1 world championship. Two weeks later Dan also wins in the Solitude Grand Prix, an extra-championship race, and climbs again on the podium at the German Grand Prix, also obtaining pole position along the difficult Nurburgring circuit.


Outside of Formula 1, he was once again retired at Le Mans due to gearbox problems, and made his debut at the Indy 500 with a Thompson-Buick, finishing the race in twentieth place. Initially Dan tries out an old Offenhauser, and speaking of this first experience on the Brickyard he will say that all along he had the feeling of losing his car. In addition, he will be critical of the chief mechanic, since the latter had not followed the instructions relating to the set-up to be used. Only later did he decide to drive the Thompson Buick, qualifying eighth; moreover, in the first laps Dan is constantly among the fastest, until a transmission problem forces him to retire.


After the race, Dan Gurney is convinced that the rear engine is the way to the future also in American racing and contacts Colin Chapman, founder of Lotus, to propose his idea. Chapman agrees, Ford signs up for the supply of engines, despite initial skepticism, and work begins on a Lotus capable of racing in the American championships. For 1963 the car is ready, and in the pre-season tests Gurney himself gets on board, reaching an average speed of 240 km/h. Unfortunately, in qualifying he hits the wall, but in the race he reaches the finish line in seventh place. With a new engine, a Ford V8, the dream couple Gurney-Clark will try again, but both will be penalized by the Dunlop tires and will have to retire. Meanwhile, however, in 1963 in Riverside, Dan gets his first victory in NASCAR, and will be able to repeat it for the next three editions and in 1968.


In Formula 1, on the other hand, after Porsche's farewell, he moved to Brabham, which Jack has just founded. The first year for the young team is not easy, having only one mechanic per car, but the car is manageable and puts the drivers in a position to often be among the first. While Brabham finished seventh in the championship with a spectacular podium in Mexico, Gurney finished fifth the season, scoring points on five different occasions and taking the Australian driver's small team to the podium in Belgium, Holland and South Africa. The fourteenth place in Monza and the four retirements do not obscure an excellent year, especially for such a young team. Dan also wins the British Saloon Car Championship with a Ford Galaxy, but at Le Mans - in his seventh participation - he is still forced to retire.


With sports cars, however, he achieves success in the Bridgehampton 500 Kilometers, and gets a place in Carroll Shelby's team in anticipation of the debut that will take place in 1964, in the period in which Ford was trying to stop Ferrari domination. In 1964 turned out to be a good year for the 24 Hours of Le Mans: paired with Bob Bondurant he obtained fourth place overall, and the class victory, with a Shelby Daytona Cobra. In Formula 1 he gets on the top step of the podium again in Rouen, a track for which he shows a particular predilection, and in the Mexican Grand Prix at the Hermanos Roidriguez circuit, but the car suffers the inconstancy of the results given that in the face of the two victories and sixth place in Belgium, in Spa, where he scores pole and remains in the lead for the whole race, Dan is forced to a series of retirements - no less than four - and placings far from the points in England, Germany and Italy. The Le Mans nightmare returned in 1965, when paired with Jerry Grant in a Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupé he retired due to engine problems, and retired again the following year, due to radiator problems in a Ford GT40 MkII.


In the meantime, participation in the Formula 1 world championship continues in this two-year period, with Brabham passing to the new BT11. The start of the season is not positive: retired in South Africa at the East London circuit due to an ignition problem, he is then absent at the Monaco Grand Prix. Subsequently, in Belgium he finishes tenth and in Clermont Ferrand is again retired due to the engine. From Silverstone, on the other hand, the season changed completely: on British soil he obtained the first placement in the points, a sixth place, and later Gurney obtained five consecutive podiums in the last five races of the year, first three third places and then two seconds. In the same year Clark fulfilled Gurney's dream and led the rear-engined Lotus to victory in the Indy 500, remaining in the lead for 190 laps out of 200 expected. A sensational result, if you consider that not only is Jim the first non-American driver to win the race since 1916, but he is still the only driver to have won the Indy 500 and the Formula 1 World Championship in the same year a prize of 150 dollars is expected for each lap in the lead of each driver, he will tell at the end of the race:


"How nice, it was like playing with a cash register; I went around and that click, $ 150, then click, another $ 150".


The following year, together with Carroll Shelby, Dan Gurney set up on his own, founded All American Racers, and produced cars under the Eagle brand, with the aim of challenging European teams with an all-American team. In reality, the idea was born several years earlier, but it had not yet been realized. The T1F chassis is associated for almost the entire season with an old Climax FPF 2.8 L4, and for only two races - Monza and Watkins Glen - with a Weslake 58 3.0 V12, designed by the English engineer Harry Weslake, which proves to be problematic both for the little power developed, less than 400 horsepower, and for the reliability. Gurney finished the race on three occasions: fifth in France and Mexico and seventh at the Nurburgring. In Monaco the entire team is absent, in Belgium they are not classified, while on all other occasions they retire. Two retirements are attributable to the engine, while in Zandvoort the cause was an oil leak and a clutch malfunction in the home race.


After participating with Lotus in 1965, Gurney switched to Eagle for the 1966 Indy 500. In the first case he was third in qualifying, but in the race he finished among the last; the following year, however, he is affected by the car that is not competitive. Meanwhile, he takes a win in Can-Am with a Ford-powered Lola T70. But it is since 1967 that Gurney's already brilliant career reaches the next level, definitively entering the history of Motorsport: on June 11, 1967, he again participates in the 24 Hours of Le Mans at the wheel of a Ford MkIV, paired with another American legend that bears the name of AJ Foyt. The latter is at Le Mans for the first time, and although his skills at the wheel are not in question, it will be Gurney who will make his knowledge of the race available to the team. The first thing Dan teaches A.J. is to manage the car, as Le Mans should not be seen as a normal race, but as an endurance race. During the tests they are in the center of the group, arousing the concern of the mechanics. But Gurney, known for the meticulousness with which he informs the mechanics of the necessary changes, in this circumstance does not indicate anything:


"The car is fine".


In the race Foyt and Gurney are constant, and find themselves in the lead after only two hours. After the night, the lead over the first Ferrari is six laps. Gurney realized that the GT40's weak point is the brakes. Therefore, reaching the full end of the Hunaudieres would have prevented the car from finishing the race. So, instead of heavily braking near the corner, he lets the car go by inertia until it drops from 340 to 150 km/h, and only then does he put his foot on the brake. The car shows no problems, the two drivers cover 388 laps, 5233 kilometers in total at an average of 218 km/h, and they win. This still remains the last time that the great French classic is won by American drivers in an American car.


At the eighth attempt, Gurney obtained the first place overall in a year that has not finished giving him satisfaction. But there is another glorious moment in this race, which would have changed the podium ceremony forever: Dan starts shaking a bottle of bubbly he found in his garage, and then sprinkles it on the audience, his team, Carroll Shelby and on all bystanders. He has just created the rite of victory in Motorsport, all over the world, in any discipline. A few days later he is in Spa for the Belgian Grand Prix on his he Eagle. It comes from three consecutive retirements: suspension, fuel pump and injection problems. Unfortunately, the Eagle is not reliable, even if fast. But at Spa it's different: in qualifying he is second, between Jim Clark and Graham Hill.


Dan skips the briefing, and thus does not learn that the green flag can be given at any time after the thirty second sign. Therefore, he finds himself totally unprepared at the moment of departure and without the gear engaged, and is sucked into the group, having to start a crazy comeback: at the end of the second lap he is already third, but he is not satisfied. This time the fuel problems don't stop him. Taking advantage of Clark's long pit stop, Gurney made a series of fast laps to retrieve Stewart and pass him. The little Eagle holds up well to the stresses of the Belgian track, and reaches the finish line: after one hundred and one minutes of racing, Gurney is first. This is a historic and completely unexpected victory, because in this way Gurney became the only American to win in Formula 1 as a driver and builder of his own car, as well as the owner of the team. During the race, his little Eagle reached 315 km/h, which for this time represents the absolute record on the Ardennes track.


Then again, in the same year he qualified second with his Eagle at the Indy 500, before retiring in the race. In Formula 1 he will only reach the finish line one more time, in the Canadian Grand Prix, third behind Brabham and Hulme. In Germany he almost repeats the success of Spa, but when he is first with a considerable gap, just three laps to go, the transmission stops working. Mosport, in Canada, will also be his last podium in the top category: in 1968 he finishes in the points only at Watkins Glen, while in 1970 only in Clermont-Ferrand. Together with the 1968 German Grand Prix, these are also the last times he has crossed the finish line of a Formula 1 Grand Prix. In these years Gurney travelled the world to devote himself to his team on several fronts, always in the triple role of driver, owner and manufacturer. The team’s commitment ranges from Formula 1 to Trans Am, without ignoring sports cars and USAC. At the height of his schedule of commitments he will come to alternate commitments in Europe and America, traveling at night between the two continents. After the victory in Belgium, Car and Driver Magazine will joke about making Gurney president of the United States:


"Say his name aloud: Daniel Sexton Gurney. President Daniel Sexton Gurney. How good that sounds. Almost as if he was born for this position".


But some pilots and student fans of the American giant will take the proposal seriously, and create the Gurney for president stickers; it is actually not uncommon to see racing cars in America taking to the track with this sticker. American law at the time stipulated that the minimum age to run for president was 35, and Gurney could not take the proposal seriously, being two years younger. Dan has become so popular that Ford introduces the Mercury Coguar XR7 Gurney Edition, signed by the driver himself. Success with A.J. Foyt helps him decide to stop competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and Gurney focuses on the Indy 500, not before winning the 1967 Brands Hatch Race of Champions and taking the Mercury Coguar to first place in the same year in Trans-Am. The success at Brands Hatch, in a race not valid for the championship, is also his latest success in Formula 1. Unfortunately, all good stories have an end, and so after years of satisfactions, at the end of 1968 Gurney made the difficult decision to withdraw the Eagle from Formula 1. Goodyear, which had always supported the project, decided to stop sponsorship, leaving the team without the financial means to continue.


This in no way means the end of the AAR, as his cars scored a double in Indianapolis in the same year. On Eagle 68 Weslake-Ford, Gurney wins three races in USAC and gets four podiums: the only one in which he is not first is in Indianapolis, in the 500 miles, where he finishes second behind Bobby Unser. In the same championship he scores two victories in 1969, and one in 1970. In these two years he is again among the first in the Indy500: in 1969 he is still second, while the following year he is third. Subsequently, Dan wins twice more, bringing to success in Can-Am a McLaren M8D/3 designed by that Bruce McLaren who in the same year will lose his life in a track accident at Goodwood, but modified by the AAR to the point of being nicknamed McLeagle. Then, however, he announced his retirement after a failed Trans-Am campaign with Plymouth Barracuda, where with his team he finished last in the constructors' championship, totally dry of victories:


"When you are not 100% motivated you have to stop being a pilot. I felt alone on the grid, my colleagues, my missing friends began to weigh on me. Many accidents could not have been foreseen, you could not have done anything to avoid them. it was a concern that was starting to build up in me".


In reality Gurney will race once again, in November 1971, when he will drive a Ferrari Dayton in the Cannonball Run, held in its first coast-to-coast edition in the United States, from east to west. It took just under thirty-six hours to complete the process: Gurney himself wrote years later, on his website, not to expect the incredible success of Cannonball. Dan Gurney cares about the issue of safety at a time when we are barely starting to talk about it, but despite this he will never join the grievances of other riders who will ask for more guarantees. The American driver was the first to race with a full-face helmet during the Indianapolis 500, in 1968, wearing a BELL originally designed for speedway pilots, a motorcycle discipline racing on dirt ovals. Gurney's relationship with helmets actually dates back to 1960, when in the Dutch Grand Prix, running out of control, he broke his arm on impact and caused the disappearance of a spectator who was in a prohibited area. From that moment, while not superstitious, he changed the color of his helmet from blue and white to black, hoping that this would change his fate.


"Some riders think: it can't happen to me, but I'm perfectly aware that, instead, this thing can overwhelm me too".


As a driver, Gurney was the first to win in four different disciplines: Formula 1, USAC-Indycar, NASCAR, and endurance, a record equalled only by Montoya and Andretti (and Loeb, who wins in World Rally, World Rallycross, World Touring car, Hillclimb and FIA GT). Dan Gurney’s business as a builder was an instant success, and since 1968, when Bobby Unser uses an Offenhauser four-cylinder in-line Eagle to win the Indy 500, it is a crescendo of fame and success. In the early 1970s, Gurney bought Carroll Shelby's stake in AAR, thus becoming the team's sole owner. At this moment he invents the Gurney Flap, a small aluminum bar mounted on the rear wing which, in the face of minimal aerodynamic loss, guarantees greater downforce. This still offers riders higher cornering speeds today, and the Eagle 72 on which the flap is initially applied will be enormously successful, to the point that in some races it will be the only registered frame. Gurney will later build twenty cars for Formula 5000, work on the development of Formula A and Formula Ford, modify six Toyota Celica for the GTU and GTO classes of IMSA, and will come to count thirteen Toyota-powered Eagles in the GTP class.


The Toyota GTP Eagle MkIII prototype, used from 1991 to 1993, is the factory's most successful car, with seventeen consecutive first places. From 1979 he will contribute to the creation and growth of the CART championship, which later became Champ Car and was absorbed by Indycar in 2008. AAR remains the only team to have built winning cars in Formula 1, USAC-Indycar and endurance. After working in IMSA with Toyota until the 90s, Dan is dedicated to Alligator bikes, designed for taller than average people, with the rider sitting low between the engine and the wheel, but he will also be involved together with Don Panoz, Nissan and Goodyear in the Deltawing project, which failed on the track but became a meme for motorsport fans.


The Deltawing idea was born when engineer Ben Bowlby looks for a new design for Indycar cars, and with the support of Chip Ganassi he shows the car at the Chicago Auto Show. Built by AAR, Don Panoz manages to win her place at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in Garage 56, dedicated to experimental vehicles. Although in the first qualifying session it shows that it can compete with the LMP2s, the other two sessions are disastrous and the car finishes eight seconds above its own time, while the other drivers improve by a few seconds compared to the previous laps.


In addition, the Deltawing driven by Michael Krumm takes a curb, receives a shock that activates the fire extinguisher and turns off the engine. In the race, however, shortly after the frightening accident that cost Davison two vertebrae (he will fully recover and return to the track after three months), Nakajima loses control of his car and comes into contact with the Deltawing, ending up against the barriers and suffering damage the steering, the bodywork and the engine. Motoyama, who is behind the wheel, will spend ninety minutes behind the barriers to repair the damage, but any attempt, even with the instructions passed from the pits, will prove to be unsuccessful, and the Toyota mechanics will apologize for the accident. Don Panoz will declare that the car could have raced in both LMP1 and LMP2 or that it could even have completely replaced the Oreca FLM09 in the LMPC class.


For 2013, the car will be entered in the American Le Mans Series, in its final year with this name (it will later become the Tudor United Sportscar Championship and then the WeatherTech Sportscar Championship). Panoz, however, will continue development alone without the support of the initial partners, as Nissan, AAR and Michelin will drop out. At the end of 2013 Don Panoz and Chip Ganassi will accuse Ben Bowlby and Nissan of sabotaging the project, stealing confidential information and exploiting it for profit. The matter will be brought to court in 2016. Despite the LMP1 specifications, the car can't keep up with the old DPs, and with the 2017 regulation change, the Deltawing will no longer be allowed to race. Don Panoz will ask to be allowed at least to participate in the 24 Hours of Daytona, but will be rejected.


For the past twenty years of his life, Dan Gurney has also served as a consultant for the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, the American Motorsports Hall of Fame and the Sebring International Raceway Hall of Fame. Slowly the AAR will extend its operations to planes, bicycles, hand bikes and various other means of transport or sports. In 2012, the Goodwood Revival dedicated the entire edition to him, and only at that moment did Gurney take the blue and white helmet back to deliver it to Lord March, as a sign of gratitude. Daniel Sexton Gurney died on January 14th 2018 in his Newport Beach home, leaving his innovations, still used and considered fundamental today, to Motorsport. The importance of the figure of Dan Gurney in the United States is underlined by a message written by Mario Andretti, via Twitter:


"I took him as an example for the first time when I was still racing in midgets and dreamed of being like him. The last time I took him as an example was yesterday. Yes, I always did. He understood me better than anyone. other, and that's why he wrote the preface to my book in 2001".


Aldo Coletta



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