Gurney Pays Tribute to Dad at Rolex Reunion

By Auto News Log • August 18th, 2010

MONTEREY, Calif. – The 2010 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion paid tribute to the career of American racing legend Dan Gurney, with many of his significant cars on display during the four-day event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca last weekend – one of America’s most prestigious vintage events.

Reigning and two-time Daytona Prototype co-champion Alex Gurney paid special tribute to his father, driving the 1967 Formula One Eagle that his dad drove to victory at Brands Hatch in 1967.

Prior to Gurney’s lap of honor, the racing legend bent over to have a few words with his son. Joining Alex on the tribute lap was reigning Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti, who drove a Birdcage Maserati that the elder Gurney once raced.

“I had a fantastic time during the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion,” Alex said. “It was a very special weekend for my whole family. Seeing that collection of cars that my dad built and raced, and so many others, was something that we will remember for a lifetime. Getting a chance to try out one of my dad’s Eagle-Weslake V-12 F1 cars was just icing on the cake. It was an extremely rare opportunity and I am very grateful to owner Lou Sellyei for allowing me to run a couple laps. The car worked beautifully and the sound of that V-12 was just incredible.”

Following the tribute lap, Dan Gurney waved the green flag for an historic Trans-Am race.

The 79-year-old Gurney competed in 20 countries, driving in 51 different makes of cars and racing in 312 events, winning 51 of them and posting podium finishes a total of 98 times. Of the seven Formula 1 races he won, four were Grand Prix Championship points races, and his seven IndyCar victories and five NASCAR victories were rounded out with endurance race victories at Le Mans, Daytona, Sebring and Nürburgring, making him one of the most accomplished drivers of all time.

Among the many drivers on hand was Bobby Unser, who raced for Gurney in IndyCar competition.

“His new concepts and designs were far, far ahead of the others,” said Unser, while several hundred people looked on. “The lower and wider design-that concept changed everything, the world over; from ’72 onward, everyone had to change the way they were thinking.”

Gurney won the inaugural Daytona Continental in 1962 – the forerunner of the Rolex 24 – with the Lotus-Climax 19B that he drove to victory among the cars on display. Gurney also pointed out that an accomplishment set by his Rolex 24-winning Toyota Eagle GTP car in 1993. “We still hold the lap record at Daytona that we set in 1993 with P.J. Jones behind the wheel,” Gurney said. “They have changed the track since then, but they have made it faster, which makes our accomplishment that much more satisfying.”

Another GRAND-AM Rolex Series driver to participate was Patrick Dempsey, who drove his 1992 RX7-92 Mazda GTP. Asked if he thought he would benefit from having raced here last year, Dempsey said, “The car has improved a lot. The gear box and the brakes are much better, but last year I was doing a lot more racing. This is the first time I have been in a car this powerful in a long time, so I have to be careful not to over-drive the car. It’s a thrill to drive this car, it’s a time capsule and a work of art sculpturally; it’s absolutely beautiful. This car is an end of an era and to be entrusted to drive it around this historic circuit with so many other beautiful cars is a thrill.”

A one-hour Speed TV special on the 2010 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 17, at 8:00 p.m. EST. The show will re-air at 1:00 a.m. the next morning and also on Friday, Sept. 24 at 1:00 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 17 at 5:00 p.m. (Check local listings for changes.)

Source: GRAND AM Road Racing

 

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