Dan Gurney began his Formula 1 career in 1959 driving for Scuderia Ferrari. In his first four races he was able to achieve two podiums. This was followed by a miserable 1960 season, driving a BR P48 for Owen Racing Organization. So he joined Porsche'....[continue reading]
Dan Gurney is the first of just three drivers to have won significant races in sports cars, NASCAR, and Indy Car. He won the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans and was the first driver to spray champagne around the podium. Another first was the Gurney flap whi....[continue reading]
Chassis #: AAR-102
Chassis #: 201
Daniel Sexton Gurney was born on April 13th of 1931 in Port Jefferson, New York. During his teenage years, he moved to California. He holds the title as being the only US-born driver to win a Formula Grand Prix, other than the Indianapolis 500, in a car he constructed. His name is legendary in the racing scene, competing in Indy Car, NASCAR, Can-Am and the Trans-Am Series. Another highlight of his racing career was winning the 24 Hours of LeMans with co-driver A.J. Foyt.
Gurney has contributed much to the automotive racing. He has many accomplishments as a driver and constructor. He was the first to spray champagne while celebrating on the podium, a tradition well practiced by many victors even to this day.
In 1958, Gurney drove a Ferrari at the 24 Hours of LeMans. The following year, he was a works driver for the Ferrari marque. By 1960 he was driving for BRM. At the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, a brake system failure caused an accident in his BRM and nearly ended his racing career. The accident left him more cautious, made him re-evaluate his driving style, and created a distrust for engineers. His racing style changed and he used the brakes more sparingly. This technique would serve him well throughout his career, especially on the long-distance, endurance races.
In 1961, he joined the factory Porsche team and drove with Jo Bonnier. His first World Championship victory came the following year at the French Grand Prix at Rouen-Les_Essarts. The following week, he again emerged as a victory, this time in a non-championship F1 race.
In 1963, Gurney was hired by Jack Brabham. He remained with the Brabham Racing Organization before leaving in 1965 to form his own team. The name of the team was AAR, short for 'All American Racers.' The name had been suggested by Victor Holt, the president of Goodyear at the time, after he had been approached by Carroll Shelby for sponsorship. The union worked well, as Goodyear wanted to contest Firestones domination of American racing, and Gurney and Shelby wanted to race in cars of their own design. The teams initial focus was on competing at Indianapolis and to secure the first American Grand Prix victory since 1921.
AAR was able to attract the services of Len Terry of Lotus fame. He had just created the Indy 500 Type 38 and was an excellent candidate to create a dual-purpose chassis that was both versatile and competitive. He began with a riveted aluminum monocoque, similar to that of the Lotus. The F1 version was powered by a 3-liter Weslake V12 engine while the Indy Eagle was powered by a quad-cam Ford V8, also found in the Lotus 38. For the 1966 Indy 500, five cars had been completed.
The fist cars completed were the Indy cars; the Weslake engine was not ready. Instead, a four-cylinder engine was mounted in place of the V12 and used in competition. The four-cylinder engines were seriously underpowered, so these races served more as test and development sessions rather than serious competition.
The Harry Weslake V12 engines had twin cams on each bank of cylinders, actuating 48 valves. Initial testing stated the engine produced just over 360 horsepower; further improvements brought the output to over 400 by 1967. Though their team name was 'All American', the engine and chassis were courtesy of individuals from Great Britain.
The Eagle's powered by twelve-cylinder engines made their racing debut at the 1966 Monza Grand Prix. The Eagles were painted in vibrant livery and featured a unique eagle-like nose. The car raced for seven laps before engine problems side-lined it prematurely. The same fortune was endured the following race, only lasting 13 laps. The engine proved to lack in reliability, as many of the components were hand-formed. For the final race of the season, Gurney reverted back to the Climax engines.
At the conclusion of the season, the team worked hard on finding a suitable engine, improving the car, and reducing the weight of the vehicle. The improvements for the vehicle were extensive. It was given many lightweight components, though it still weighed more than desired when the work was completed.
For the following year, the prospects were optimistic and the team was hopeful. The cars first non-Championship race was at Brands Hatch. A victory was scored but this would prove to be short-lived as reliability problems continued to plague the car in its following races. The fortunes reversed at the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa and Dan Gurney scored an impressive Grand Prix victory. This had been the first American car to score a GP victory since 1921 when a Duesenberg won the French Grand Prix.
At Nurburgring, the Eagle was running strong before a driveshaft failure cause the car to retire. This was very disappointing and frustrating; Gurney had been leading and there was only one lap to go. Dan Gurney raced the Eagles for three more races in 1968 and then switched to a McLaren with Cosworth power.
Dan Gurney retired from Grand Prix racing at the close of the season. Instead, he focused his attention on the American Road Racing scene.
The Indy version of the Eagle, the T1G, was a fast machine but suffered from the same shortcomings as its sibling. Reliability was its Achilles heal. Denny Hulme was able to manage a fourth place finish at the 1967 Indy 500 and Gurney scored a second place finish the following year. Gurney had been beaten by Bob Unser, who was driving a newer version of the Eagle. His car featured a turbocharged four-cylinder Offenhauser engine.
The goal of the Eagle cars had been accomplished over the three seasons in which they raced. The cars continued their racing career in a variety of American racing series for many years after being retired from the AAR team. By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2012
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