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#14355 - 01/14/18 08:15 PM Dan Gurney is gone
rick haynes

Dan Gurney was far and away my favorite race driver and the nicest one I have ever met. I went to high school in a town about 2 hours from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and I spent as much time there during the month of May from 1968 to 1971 as I thought I could get away with, what with missing school and all. Indy was a lot different then; the garages were off limits to women and all the surplus people that get in there now. Since we were so young and had no passes, getting in was always a challenge but we away found a way, usually by slipping by a distracted guard or in an act of desperation hopping the fence. My best friend and I would spend all day walking around watching the mechanics work on the cars and talking to as many drivers as we could find sitting around doing nothing while waiting to go back out to run. It really helped that the old garages that were built years ago were too small so the mechanics worked on the cars with the garage doors open. We got to see all kinds of neat things. The men would work on the cars and parts out in the open back then in Gasoline Alley.
But the highlight of all my years roaming around Gasoline Alley was Dan "the man" Gurney. As you might guess staying in the garage area with all these guards looking for trespassers was tough at times but it was just a fun, exciting game and our safe hiding place was Dan's garages. Whenever we saw a guard coming our way with a determined look on his face, we would take off running, but we couldn't go straight to Dan's garage. We needed to go the long way around the garage rows or take a quick trip through a bathroom so we could disappear in to our safe haven without anyone seeing where we went. We were never turned away; we just slipped in and stayed out of the way. More than once Dan would smile at us and comment that the guards must be after us. He let us sit in his spare car and stand to one side and watch the crew work on his car. He always had a nice word when you talked to him and he would write something personal on your pictures, not just his name, the only driver that I have ever seen do that. When we were leaving one day Dan and some of his buddies passed us on their motorcycles heading down 16th Street, so we pulled in behind them and followed them almost to IRP, the race track west of Indy. I could see they saw us back behind them so after about 15 miles Dan pulled over. I was afraid he was going to be mad at us pests, but he wasn't at all. We were in a Myers VW dune buggy and we asked if he would take us for a drive and show us how it was really done. You know what he said? Instead of treating us like the fools we were actin, he said that it would be fun but there was nowhere we could go so he could really throw it around. So we thanked him for stopping and he rode off down the road and we drove home feeling we had made a friend for life. Dan made everyone feel that way. My opinion is that Dan Gurney was the most versatile race driver in the history of auto racing. In one 18 month period from 1966 to 1967 he won an F-1 race in his Eagle, Lemans in a Ford MK4, a Can-Am in a Lola, (I think this was one of his best races), the Riverside 500 NASCAR race in a Ford (4th in a row), a Trans-am in a Mercury (beating Parnelli by half a car), and the Rex Mays 300 in his Indy car, plus sat on the front row at Indy. Drivers have won more races and have dominated types of racing at times but no one has been able to get in as many different types of cars as Dan and win races. Even Mario and AJ have not been as versatile. I decided to write this because I feel sorry for the race fans of today even though they don't know what they are missing. A person may be a Lewis Hamilton fan but they will never meet him, much less talk to him. I went to the 1st F-1 race at Indy and thought maybe since I knew my way around there I might be able to get in the pits and see the cars up close. You couldn't get within 100 yards of the cars and I saw from a distance people were going through 3 gates with guards just to get in the pit garages. At the 1972 Canada GP in Mosport my brother and I sat in the grass behind the pits and talked to the mechanic rebuilding the gearbox in Ronnie Peterson's Mach on the Saturday night before the race. I never knew at the time how good we had it, to meet our boyhood heroes and in a small way share their racing life for a short time. If ever I had a hero it was Dan. I think Dan Gurney was the best because he acted like you want your heroes to act, approachable and friendly but then capable of going out and performing with world class skill. Daniel Sexton Gurney had it all and the racing world will not be the same with out him.

rick haynes

#14356 - 01/15/18 12:21 AM Re: Dan Gurney is gone [Re: ]
Amélie Renoncule Offline

Registered: 07/05/13
Posts: 351
Loc: Saint-Denis, Paris, France


Adieu mon ami !

My friend, my friend
Goodbye My friend!
This time we will not see each other again
This time even you will forget me
My friend, my friend
Goodbye My friend!
With you I paced
Since time passes
And despite all these years
I never took
Time to tell you
One day you'll go
I wanted to face you
You never changed
You were the brother
You were the friend
For whom I would have given everything

Friend, Dear Friend
I dry my tears
Do you see me from up there?
Oh, my friend
you are no longer here
How am I going to do without your words?
My friend, my friend
Goodbye My friend!
This time we will not see each other again
This time even you will forget me
My friend, my friend
Goodbye My friend!
With you I paced
We'll see each other again in the afterlife
I prayed
For your soul to rest in peace
Since your ...

Edited by Amélie Renoncule (01/15/18 02:12 AM)
"Pour l'amour de Dieu!"
Z'Toulouse d'Amélie Renoncule a'Chevalier

#14357 - 01/15/18 02:04 AM Re: Dan Gurney is gone [Re: ]
zuzulo56 Offline

Registered: 04/25/11
Posts: 2449
Loc: Hollywood
Originally Posted By: rick haynes

Dan Gurney was far and away my favorite race driver and the nicest one I have ever met. Daniel Sexton Gurney had it all and the racing world will not be the same with out him.

rick haynes

Very nice remembrances Rick! Glad that you related same. Now I feel as if I know something 'real' of his personality...and charm !


Edited by zuzulo56 (01/15/18 02:06 AM)
Ronald James Michael Marin
Hristos Anesti!...So, Be cool and play nice!

#14358 - 01/15/18 04:24 PM Re: Dan Gurney is gone [Re: zuzulo56]
fordboy628 Offline

Registered: 06/30/14
Posts: 322
Loc: NE Illinois

Kind of you to relate your experiences. I also found Mr. Gurney to be a real "human being", and not just a race car driver. He is now re-united with his engineer, Carroll Smith.



Without "data", you are just another guy with a theory or an opinion . . . .

Someone who thinks logically is a nice contrast to the real world . . . .

#14361 - 01/18/18 01:11 PM Re: Dan Gurney is gone [Re: ]
JimG Offline

Registered: 02/01/11
Posts: 55
Loc: Aurora, CO
It's sad I find nothing in any of the popular media about it. Dan Gurney was
a great American and what a great ambasadore. He will be missed, great man.
I'm going to dedicate a hot lap and a cold beer to him as soon as I'm back in the seat, ....and back out for the beer.
Some don't know it but Dan's company has done and been doing a lot of classified DoD projects as well as commercial space flight. He had a lot to do with the landing legs for the spacex falcon 9. Don't know if it was design or design / build, one of the two.
To coin an old phrase, they don't make em like that anymore.

jim g


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