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22 Jan 2018

Dan Gurney 1931-2018

Remembering the motor racing polymath who forever owns a rare slice of Porsche history.

Remembering the motor racing polymath who forever owns a rare slice of Porsche history.

The motorsport community was dealt a blow this week with the sad news that Dan Gurney died last Sunday at the age of 86

Gurney was a remarkable talent within a vintage era, winning in Formula 1, Indy Car, NASCAR, Can-Am, and the Trans-Am Series. He also took outright victory at Le Mans in 1967. A famously modest character blessed with almost unparalleled talent both as a driver and an engineer, Gurney was a priceless asset to any racing programme.

His part in Porsche’s own legacy cannot be understated, since it was Gurney who took the marque’s first and as yet only win in Formula 1 at the 1962 French Grand Prix aboard the flat-eight configured 804. He would make various outings for Porsche throughout ’61 and ’62, later remarking that: “It was with Porsche that I really learned how to drive – because they gave me cars that didn’t constantly break down.”

Gurney’s personal career highlight must surely have been his famous victory at the 1967 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa in the Eagle-Weslake Mk1, a car of his own design. And it was following his victory at Le Mans that same astonishing year that he started the now ubiquitous tradition of spraying champagne from the rostrum.

His name would become further enshrined in automotive folklore courtesy of Gurney flap, a small additional wing spoiler. This simple yet ingenious design increases downforce with minimal drag and was used by Porsche as recently last year on the 911 GT3 with Touring Package.

In a felicitous twist of fate, Porsche had an accidental hand in Gurney’s private life too. In the late 1960s he met and soon married Evi, a Stuttgart-born motor racing correspondent and secretary to Porsche Racing Manager Huschke von Hanstein.

Gurney was remarkable talent and gentleman in the truest sense. He will be fondly remembered and greatly missed.

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