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 Post subject: Dan Gurney is gone
PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2018 3:36 pm 
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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


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 Post subject: Re: Dan Gurney is gone
PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2018 4:44 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 29, 2016 9:12 am
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Location: Boston, Ma
Well put!

What a loss. Such a cool guy and racing legend.

RIP Dan.

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 Post subject: Re: Dan Gurney is gone
PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2018 8:36 pm 
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Location: Northeast PA
Very nicely written.
Godspeed Dan Gurney

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 Post subject: Re: Dan Gurney is gone
PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 5:09 am 
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Nice job Rick. I saw him spin and do a 360 and keep going at an F1 race at Watkins Glen in '67. He was amazing in his day. Mark Donohue was my hero but Dan was a close second.

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 Post subject: Re: Dan Gurney is gone
PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 5:58 am 
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Nice post. I never got the pleasure of meeting him, but the stories people tell about him and the glow they have when talking about him, should tell you about everything you need to know.

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 Post subject: Re: Dan Gurney is gone
PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 6:14 am 
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Well done Rick. Thank you.
EZ


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 Post subject: Re: Dan Gurney is gone
PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 7:00 am 
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Joined: Thu Feb 04, 2010 5:38 pm
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The two autographs I got from him will always be treasured.

Tom B.


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 Post subject: Re: Dan Gurney is gone
PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 8:10 am 
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Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2011 5:15 pm
Posts: 143
nicely put richard. as a southern californian we are pleased to have called him our own. i did get to meet him when i bought one of his old indy cars and he was exactly as you describe unassuming, approachable and without attitude. a class act in every sense of the term. im jealous of the of both the era and the way you were able to form a bond with him in!!


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 Post subject: Re: Dan Gurney is gone
PostPosted: Tue Jan 16, 2018 3:52 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2011 3:48 am
Posts: 524
Location: Florida
We got to see Dan race many times during the 70's. For the past 20 years we've been paddocking at the Gurney Terrace at Sebring always appreciating how good he was and how much fun it was to watch him race.

Bob


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 Post subject: Re: Dan Gurney is gone
PostPosted: Tue Jan 16, 2018 6:42 pm 
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One of my heroes too. Next week Thursday, I am going to the REVS Institute (Collier Auto Collection) in Naples, FL. to spend a little time with his Eagle F-1 car and say thanks for all the memories.

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