Dan Gurney in 1965 - image: Lothar SpurzemEnlarge Photo
This year’s event, the 18th annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, is no exception to this rule. Planned seminars include one honoring the 50th anniversary of the Corvette Stingray’s design and a second on the 50th anniversary of the Porsche 911, but the one that has our full attention is Saturday’s panel marking 50 years of the Ford GT40.
Those already on the panel include racers Brian Redman and David Hobbs, and now comes word that iconic driver and race car constructor Dan Gurney will also be on hand to spin stories of racing’s glory days.
Though Gurney scored but a single victory for Carroll Shelby’s Ford GT40 team, it was a significant one: in 1967 Gurney and co-driver A.J. Foyt captured the second Le Mans victory for the Ford GT40, maintaining a string of wins that would ultimately stretch from 1966-1969.
One week after Gurney’s win at Le Mans, the American driver set a record for the fastest-ever (at the time) Formula 1 race, held at Belgium’s Spa Francorchamps circuit. Gurney finished 13th in the F1 World Championship in 1967, but climbed to third in 1968 before winning the World Championship in 1970.
Though Gurney enjoyed success as a driver and as a constructor (winning three Indy 500s and multiple IMSA championships with his Eagle-branded cars), he may be best known for three things that still endure in modern motorsports.
One is the “Gurney flap,” a right-angle wing extension fitted to the rear spoiler that increases downforce without adding a significant amount of drag, while the second is the “Gurney bubble” used to raise the roof height to accommodate tall, helmeted drivers.
The American driver can also lay claim to originating a cultural staple of modern motorsports. On the podium at Le Mans in 1967, Gurney was handed a magnum of Moet champagne. Rather than taking a drink, he placed his thumb over the top, shook the bottle and sprayed the crowd, and the champagne shower was born.
For information on seminars and ticketing, head on over to the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance website.