For only the second time in the 37-year history of summer’s annual vintage racecar festival at Laguna Seca on California’s Monterey Peninsula, this year’s event celebrated a man rather than a marque. Just as Juan Manuel Fangio was honored in 1991, so was Dan Gurney the event’s featured guest in 2010.
This year’s Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca hosted a special gathering of Eagle racing cars constructed by Gurney’s All American Racers, as well as a number of other machines that played important roles in Dan’s legendary career. The assemblage was headlined by three priceless machines, his Belgian GP-winning Eagle-Weslake, the Ford GT MkIV with which he and A.J. Foyt won Le Mans in 1967, and the works Eagle-Offy that Bobby Unser dove to victory at Indianapolis in 1975. The two Eagles were there courtesy of the Miles Collier Collection, while the Ford was brought from the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
A dozen other Eagles joined them under the twin white tents of the paddock’s “Dan Gurney Garage,” including all but one of AAR’s four F1 Eagles, and assorted Eagle Indycars—with both the first and the last—as well as the record-setting double IMSA champion MkIII GTP car.
Other significant machinery that Dan drove was also featured. Beyond the Le Mans-winning Ford, Porsche provided the 804 Formula One car with which he won the non-championship Solitude Grand Prix in 1962, and they were joined by: the Camoradi Maserati Birdcage that Dan and Stirling Moss drove to victory in the 1000K of the Nürburgring in 1960; the Arciero Brothers Lotus 19 in which he won the inaugural Daytona Continental in ’62; the Ford Galaxie stock car he took to the first of his five 500-mile NASCAR wins at Riverside; the Lola T70-Ford with which he registered Ford’s only Can-Am success at Bridgehampton in 1966; and the 1971 Ferrari Daytona that carried him and Brock Yates to victory in the original Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash.
On Saturday afternoon, spectators around the circuit were treated to a parade of selected cars from the display, headlined by Dan’s youngest son, Alex, the reigning Grand-Am champion, driving Lou Sellyei’s Brands Hatch-winning Eagle chassis 102. Dr. Sellyei was subsequently presented with the event’s Founder’s Trophy for his contributions to historic racing.
Asked to describe his experience, Alex commented: “First, it was kind of emotional for everybody because we tried to make it look authentic with the old helmet, and the whole look, so it was great having my dad right there with my whole family. Not to stall it leaving the pits was good! I was just trying to get a feel for it and think about what my dad was going through back then while checking all the gauges. The car was much more user-friendly than I thought it would be, it had more grip than I thought it would, the gearbox was much easier to use than I thought it would be, and the
V-12 sounded amazing. I didn’t get to run it really fast because there was a pace car in front of us, but all in all it was nice to feel it out. It’ll be a memory forever.”
Beyond the cars, the event also served as a reunion for many of the folks who contributed to the success of AAR through their dedicated work for the company. This group, which Dan called “graduates of our AAR University of motor racing,” included not only drivers and designers, but shop staff and crewmen as well as various other support personnel. Everyone gathered together at the track’s infield cabana on Saturday evening for a champagne toast to Dan and, by extension, to themselves, as a grand time was had by all in attendance.