Dan Gurney’s name alone is enough for most of us at Automobile magazine to start getting a little patriotic. A California native, Gurney brought his race car driving talent to an international stage from the 1950s through ‘70s, winning events in Indy Car, Formula 1, and sports car racing. To celebrate Gurney, the Petersen Automotive Museum has opened a new exhibit in Los Angeles featuring cars and mementos of his illustrious and unique career.
Gurney raced in a variety of series including sports car racing, NASCAR, Indy Car and Formula 1. In the latter two, Gurney notably competed in cars of his own manufacture and he remains the only Formula 1 driver to win in a self-built car — in the Gurney Eagle-Weslake T1G at the 1967 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps. A week earlier in 1967, Gurney won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a Ford GT40 with a modified roof to suit his tall stature — a modification that would come to be known as the “Gurney Bubble.” Gurney’s racing innovations include the “Gurney Flap,” a raised trailing edge added to a car’s wing, the first full-face driver’s helmet, and the now-prevalent tradition of spraying champagne after a race victory which began at his ’67 Le Mans victory.
The Petersen exhibit marks 50 years since Gurney’s historic 1967 season and features 12 race cars that are pivotal to his legend, including several All-American Racer Gurney Eagles. Also on display in the exhibit is the unconventional Alligator motorcycle that Gurney invented, the famous 1993 Toyota Eagle IMSA GTP car that won every race it entered, as well Gurney’s aforementioned helmet, and champagne bottle.
The exhibit, “The Eagles Have Landed: Dan Gurney’s All American Racers” will run through January 17, 2018 in the Nearburg Family Gallery at the Petersen Automotive Museum.