Former IMSA team owner and legendary driver and car builder Dan Gurney passed away on Sunday. He was 86.
“The word ‘legend’ can sometimes be overused, but in describing Daniel Sexton Gurney, it’s the only word that fits,” said IMSA President Scott Atherton.
“Dan Gurney was an American racing legend who accomplished nearly all there was to accomplish as a driver in our sport, from sports cars to NASCAR, Indy cars to Formula 1. Dan was an innovative car builder and a lifelong steward of motorsports beyond his on-track performance.
“In the world of IMSA, he was a championship-winning team owner with his All American Racers team, and in later years, his son, Alex, would become a driving champion as well in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series.
On behalf of everybody at IMSA, we extend our most sincere condolences to Dan’s wife, Evi, and his entire family. We also extend our thoughts and prayers to Dan’s many friends and associates. We’re confident he’s spraying champagne in heaven right now. Godspeed, Dan.”
During his successful career as a driver, Gurney won races in the Trans-Am, Can-Am, NASCAR, Formula 1 and Indy car series.
He was the first driver in history to win races in sports cars (1958), Formula 1 (1962), NASCAR (1963) and Indy cars (1967). The only other two to accomplish this feat are Mario Andretti and Juan Pablo Montoya.
Following his 1967 victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with co-driver A.J. Foyt, Gurney became the first driver to spray champagne following the win on the podium, a tradition that is now followed throughout the world following a win.
The following week he won the Belgian Grand Prix in a car he constructed – the Eagle Mk. 1.
After he retired from driving, Gurney became the chairman and CEO of All American Racers, a title he held until he turned over control of the company to his son, Justin, in 2011. The team won 78 races including the Indianapolis 500, the Rolex 24 At Daytona the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and eight championships.
As a team owner in the IMSA GTP class in 1992 and 1993, his Toyota Eagles, at one point, won 17 consecutive races. Those teams also won back-to-back driver and manufacturer championships.
He was responsible for the “Gurney Flap”, a right-angle extension on the upper trailing edge of the rear wing which increases downforce. He was also first driver to wear a full-face helmet. The Port Jefferson, New York native was enshrined into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1990 and was also a member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.
Gurney is survived by his wife, Evi, and four sons – Justin, Alex, Jimmy and Dan Jr.