Famed racer Dan Gurney dead at 86


Dan Gurney

Dan Gurney

Famed racer Dan Gurney passed away Sunday at the age of 86 after complications from pneumonia, his wife and family have announced. 

Gurney is perhaps best known for his two motorsport victories separated just one week apart: a win at the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans and a win at the Belgian Grand Prix in an Eagle Formula 1 car. However, his motorsport legacy runs much deeper.

He was the first driver to ever win a race in NASCAR, Formula 1, and IndyCar. To this day, only Mario Andretti and Juan Pablo Montoya have matched the feat. But neither Andretti or Montoya have had such a dramatic impact on motorsports or the way drivers celebrate victory. Gurney basically patented the victory-podium champagne spray and he brought full-face race helmets to F1.

If those iconic contributions aren't enough, Gurney also pioneered a small tab protruding from the edge of an Indy car's wing. The small modification produced substantial amounts of downforce and wears his name today: the Gurney flap. Its use is still common today in motorsports and the aviation industry. 

In a statement, Gurney's wife Evi and family delivered a final statement ahead of a private funeral for the legendary motorsports figure.

"With one last smile on his handsome face, Dan drove off into the unknown just before noon today, January 14, 2018. In deepest sorrow, with gratitude in our hearts for the love and joy you have given us during your time on this earth, we say ‘Godspeed.’"

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