Dan Gurney: All American Racer

(Part 2)

International Sports Car Races

Very early in his career, Dan Gurney found himself in Europe racing against the best sports car drivers in the world on some of the most famous road courses in the world. Co-driving a Ferrari 250TR of the North American Racing Team (NART), he was running 4th in the 1958 24-Hours of Le Mans when his co-driver crashed, putting them out of the race. A couple months later, he drove a small Osca Maserati to 7th at the demanding track at Nurburgring, Germany. And in March 1959, he co-drove another Ferrari 250TR with Phil Hill and Olivier Gendebien to victory in the Sebring 12-hour race. Co-driving a Maserati "Birdcage" with Stirling Moss, Dan won the 1000-km race at Nurburgring in 1960. In 1961, he was a member of the Porsche team, and placed second in the gruelling Targo Florio race in Sicily, co-driving with Jo Bonnier. One of his best-remembered wins was at the 1962 Daytona 3-hour race, where his Arciero Lotus 19 expired on the front straight just a few minutes before the end of the timed race. He had a large enough lead that he just stopped his Lotus on the banking just before the finish line and, as the flagman waved the checkered flag to end the race, let the car coast across the line for the win.

From 1963 to 1967, Dan was a member of Carroll Shelby's Shelby American team, and he drove Cobra roasters, the Cobra Daytona coupe, and various Ford GT-40s to key victories. In the FIA Sports Car World Championship race at Bridgehampton, New York in the fall of 1963, he gave Cobra its first GT class victory against Ferrari. The following year, he drove Cobra roadsters to 2nd place in GT class at Daytona and Targo Florio, and drove Cobra Daytona coupes to GT class victories at Le Mans and Goodwood, England. In 1965 he drove his modified Lotus 19B-Ford at the Daytona and Sebring races in the role of "rabbit" to set a pace intended to break the Ferraris that were competing against the Cobras and Ford GT-40s. As expected, Dan's Lotus didn't survive, but Cobras won GT class and GT-40s won Prototype class in both races.

At the Daytona race in 1966, Dan and co-driver Jerry Grant brought their Ford Mk.II to a 2nd place finish behind another Mk.II. Then at Sebring came one of Dan's biggest heart breaks. He was leading in the final lap when the engine in his Ford Mk.II blew. Dan pushed the car across the finish line for an apparent 2nd place finish, but he was later disqualified for pushing the car. At Le Mans, that same year, he and Jerry Grant were again leading in their Mk.II when the engine again let go. Victory at Le Mans had eluded Dan since his first race there in 1958, but that ended in June 1967, when he and co-driver A.J. Foyt dominated the race and brought their Ford Mk.IV to victory. Dan didn't enter an endurance race again until the 1970 Daytona race, where the gearbox in his NART Ferrari 512S failed.

During 1958 to 1970, Dan Gurney started 41 international sports car races, winning 8 times and placing second 4 times.

1959 - Ferrari 250TR
1959 - Ferrari 250TR

1960 - Maserati Birdcage
1960 - Maserati "Birdcage"

1961 - Porsche 718
1961 - Porsche 718

1964 - Shelby Cobra 289
1964 - Shelby Cobra 289

1964 - Shelby Cobra Daytona
1964 - Shelby Cobra Daytona

1965 - AAR Lotus 19B
1965 - AAR Lotus 19B

1966 - Ford MK.II
1966 - Ford Mk.II

1967 - Ford Mk.IV
1967 - Ford Mk.IV

International Sports Car Race Record
(1958-1970 - Top 10 Finishes Only)
  41 Starts                                                                   
   5 Poles                                                                    
   8 Wins (5 Overall, 3 Class)                                                
   4 2nd Place (2 Overall, 2 Class)                                           
  Date             Place        Pos.         Car                Comments      
---------   ------------------ -----  -----------------  ---------------------
Aug. 1958   Nurburgring, GER    7     Osca (Maserati)                         
Mar. 1959   Sebring, FL         1     Ferrari 250TR                           
?    1959   Goodwood, ENG       5     Ferrari 250TR                           
?    1959   Nurburgring, GER    5     Ferrari 250TR                           
?    1960   Nurburgring, GER    1     Maserati "Birdcage"                     
?    1961   Targo Florio, ITA   2     Porsche                                 
Feb. 1962   Daytona, FL         1     Arciero Lotus 19                        
Mar. 1962   Sebring, FL         1 GT  Porsche Carrera                         
Fall 1963   Bridgehampton, NY   1     Cobra 289                               
Feb. 1964   Daytona, FL         2 GT  Cobra 289                               
Apr. 1964   Targo Florio, ITA   2 GT  Cobra 289                               
Jun. 1964   Le Mans, FRA        1 GT  Cobra Daytona                           
Aug. 1964   Goodwood, ENG       1 GT  Cobra Daytona                           
Feb. 1966   Daytona, FL         2     Ford Mk.II                              
Jun. 1967   Le Mans, FRA        1     Ford Mk.IV                              

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