An affable, lanky son of an opera singer, Dan Gurney played only a brief walk-on role in the McLaren F1 story, driving a handful of races for the team during the summer of 1970 in the wake of Bruce McLaren’s tragic death at Goodwood. Dan had been drafted in to fill the void, but at 38 years of age the competitive spark had dimmed. With admirable candour he recognised that fact, returned to the USA and announced his retirement.
Although Gurney won just four Grands Prix in his career, he is remembered beyond question as one of the very finest drivers of his generation, one of the few men to stand comparison with the legendary Jim Clark, a man he respected enormously. He also stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Mario Andretti as the best American F1 driver of all time.
After a spell with the US army in Korea during the early 1960s, Gurney threw himself into club racing on the west coast of the USA, eventually going to Italy for a test drive at Modena in a Ferrari sports car. He pressed all the right buttons and by 1960 was a member of the Ferrari F1 team, then switched through BRM, Porsche and Brabham to fielding his own elegant Eagle machines, one of which carried him to a fine victory in the 1967 Belgian GP at Spa. It was the high point of Dan’s illustrious career.