Dan Gurney: Where Eagles Dare


This piece is not particularly original.

However, we take the opportunity to reinforce significant overlaps and outcomes in the exciting decade of the Sixties along with the Anglo American collaboration and exchange involving Chapman and Lotus and not least the significant commercial benefits.

It permits brief reference to the youth culture of the Sixties.

Subscribers might like to see the directly relevant and integrated A&R pieces that complement and help structure this article:-

  • Lotus Drivers series
  • Lotus at Indianapolis including the Type 38
  • Lotus 19
  • Len Terry
  • The Cosworth DFV
  • Lotus Celebrity owners series
  • Lotus Design Decades and Social history series

Dan Gurney

Daniel Sexton Gurney (April 13, 1931 – January 14, 2018) was an American racing driver, race car constructor, and team owner who reached racing’s highest levels starting in 1958. Gurney won races in the Formula One, Indy Car, NASCAR, Can-Am, and Trans-Am Series. Gurney is the first of three drivers to have won races in Sports Cars (1958), Formula One (1962), NASCAR (1963), and Indy cars (1967), the other two being Mario Andretti and Juan Pablo Montoya.

In 1967, after winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans together with A. J. Foyt, Gurney spontaneously sprayed champagne while celebrating on the podium, which thereafter became a custom at many motorsports events.[1] As owner of All American Racers, he was the first to put a simple right-angle extension on the upper trailing edge of the rear wing. This device, called a Gurney flap, increases downforce and, if well designed, imposes only a relatively small increase in aerodynamic drag. At the 1968 German Grand Prix, he became the first driver ever to use a full face helmet in Grand Prix racing.[2] [3]

Dan Gurney and Lotus

Dan Gurney had a very respectable relationships and made a significant contributions to Chapman and Lotus. This ought not to be underestimated.

The Sixties were exciting times in both American and Britain underscored by a youth culture, experimentation, innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit from a brave minority.

Lotus 19

Dan Gurney did particularly well in the Lotus 19. In racing a car for the Arciero brothers and the Pacesetter Ford. Both cars are featured in Taylor.

The image below seems to be from a road test in Car and Driver, 1961. (See Unique, reference below)

Dan driving these cars featured in sponsors adverts of the period (see A&R Series)

Figure 1

Lotus at Indianapolis

Avoiding repetition we invite subscribers to read our dedicated articles on Lotus at Indianapolis.

The significance here is that Dan Gurney is credited with encouraging Chapman and Lotus to participate.

Dan Gurney was possibly driven and motivated by a certain idealism and engineering belief and possibly a genuine sportsmanship. Interwoven are the commercial opportunities that participation and success offered from prize money to export to collaboration and sponsors. Dan Gurney action possibly also helped Americans into the European arena of motor racing.

Figure 2.Getty image from the internet.Dan Gurney in an early Lotus Ford at Indianapolis

Figure 3.Authors sketch of the Lotus Type 38 note the resemblance to the Eagle

Eagle- Westlake, 1966 United States

Doug Nye:

“Dan Gurney was an American enthusiast and very talented GP driver.

He won GP races for Porsche and Brabham Climax in the 1.5 L Formula of 1961-65 and then gained backing to build his o’s Eagle cars for the new three litre GP formula of 1966 and for Indianapolis in America, in which he had first interested Colin Chapman, and so brought about the Lotus-Ford rear engine revolution there….

Dan and his backers established All American Racers Inca at Santa Ana, California late in 1965 and used Len Terry, designer of the Indy winning Lotus 38 to draw his prototype Eagle cars for ’66.

Ties were then forged with Harry Westlake Research in Rye in England who were to build a BRM like three litre V12 engine for the F1 variant and the Indianapolis monocoque chassis”

The Eagle T2G, 1967

Hodges adds:

“The first Eagles followed the Lotus 38 example in several respects a factor common to both cars being designer Len Terry.

Basis of the Eagles was a fully riveted light weight monocoque with four steel bulkheads and suspension on typical GP lines.

The nose and engine covers (not always used on the GP cars ) was in fiberglass while six spoke cast magnesium wheels set off the overall lines….

Aubrey Woods was chief designer of the Gurney Weslake V12, naturally a twin ohc unit with four valves per cylinder …..when it first appeared this produced 364 BHP, 417was the maximum claimed for it in 1967, some units may have given 420 BHP but others failed to produce 400bhp.

It was reliable in 1967 but not in 1968”

From wiki:

“EagleThe Eagle Mk1, commonly referred to as the Eagle T1G, was a Formula One racing car, designed by Len Terry for Dan Gurney‘s Anglo American Racers team. The Eagle, introduced for the start of the 1966 Formula One season, is often regarded as being one of the most beautiful Grand Prix cars ever raced at the top levels of international motorsport.[1] Initially appearing with a 2.7L Coventry Climax inline 4-cylinder engine, the car was designed around a 3.0L Gurney-Weslake V12 which was introduced after its first four races. In the hands of team boss Gurney, the Eagle-Weslake won the 1967 Belgian Grand Prix, making Dan Gurney only the second driver at the time, and one of only three to date, to win a Formula One Grand Prix in a car of their own construction. That win in Belgium still stands as the only win for a USA-built car as well as one of only two wins of an American-licensed constructor in Formula One. A highly successful motor racing driver in many disciplines, Dan Gurney had been driving in Formula One since the late 1950s. While driving for the Brabham works team, he joined with a group of prominent motor racing figures and financial backers in the United States, including Carroll Shelby, to found All American Racers. This effort was largely backed by the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, in an effort to challenge Firestone’s longtime dominance of American open-wheel racing. Inspired by the performance of Jack Brabham and Bruce McLaren‘s own teams, AAR decided to enter Grand Prix racing. Then as now, the main engineering hub for Formula One manufacturers was in the United Kingdom, so AAR set up a subsidiary team known as Anglo American Racers which, while registered and based in the USA, was named in deference to the cars’ British Weslake engines.

To achieve AAR’s dual aims of winning in both Formula One and Champ Car formulae, AAR hired ex-Lotus designer Len Terry to work for the American outfit. His brief was to create a chassis that could be used both for the twisting road course circuits of the F1 series, as well as the broad ovals of the North American series. Terry was ideally placed to be able to fulfill such a brief, having just completed the 1965 Indianapolis 500-winning Lotus 38 for Colin Chapman‘s team.

The design of the Mk1, and its Indy sister design the Mk2, closely followed the 38, with a riveted aluminium monocoque central section, carrying an unstressed engine mounted behind the driver. The lines of the chassis were remarkably clean and elegant, and the car sported a distinctively beaked radiator opening at the front. Suspension components were mounted directly on to this monocoque, and consisted of a comparatively conservative lower wishbone and single top link for each wheel which also served as a rocker for the inboard-mounted spring/damper package. The Mk1 was designed around the forthcoming Aubrey Woods-designed Weslake V12 engine while the Mk2, essentially the same chassis design, was designed to accept the quad-cam Ford V8 that had powered the previous year’s Indy 500 winner (Jim Clark, in the Terry-designed Lotus 38).”

The Eagle Aesthetic and Symbolism

The Eagle was possibly deliberately presented in American national racing colours.

The dark blue and white Eagles were considered the most of the handsome of the season and many designers rate them amongst the most beautiful of F1cars.

Perhaps there are some cues from the Ferrari shark nose and certainly the Lotus 38.

The three litre F1 era of the Sixties produced some magnificent and complex engines like the BRM H16. The V12 was a layout adopted by several other Marques.

The name Eagle itself was deeply evocative.The Eagle formed part of American identification and to the indigenous Native Americans was sacred and steeped in Symbolism and folklore. The powerful and noble magnificent creature was likened to be majestic, bold and a symbol of strength and determination. The Native people likened its flight to connect with the creator whilst possessing courage wisdom and continuity.

As an aside the Pratt and Whitney engine turbine company adopted the Eagle in their trade marks. This logo appeared on the Lotus 56 at Indianapolis.

Specification from Hodges:

Marque Eagle
Designation T2G
Year 1967
Engine Eagle Weslake V12
Bore x stroke (mm) 72.8\60
Capacity (cc) 2997
Power approx. bhp 415 @10000rpm
Transmission Hewland DG 300 gearbox
Chassis Monocoque
Front suspension Top rocker arms operating inboard coil spring/damper
units, bottom wishbones
Rear suspension Single top links,reveresed lower wishbone, outboard
coil spring /damper units ,twin radius rods
Wheelbase (in.) 96.5
Front/rear track (in.) 61

Figure 4.Editors sketch inspired by illustrations in Nye and Hodges

Other Marques raced by Dan Gurney

Marque Type
Ferrari Dino 246 250/TR59 330LMB
Porsche 718 787 804
Lotus 18 19 24 38
Brabham BT7 BT11 BT24
Eagle T1F T1G
McLaren M7A M14A
Cooper T51
Jaguar E2A
Shelby Cobra Daytona
Ford GT40 Mk.IV

Learning Opportunities

Our learning /educational opportunities are intended to be challenging thought provoking and requiring additional research and/or analysis.

These opportunities are particularly designed for a museum/education centre location where visitors would be able to enjoy access to all the structured resources available in conjunction with any concurrent exhibition.

In this instance we suggest the following might be appropriate:-

  • Print our drawing of the Gurney F1car and cut out engine cover and insert to note the additional aerodynamic benefits offered
  • Benchmark Dan Gurney as a F1 driver
  • Using examples demonstrate how drivers of the Sixties were versatile
  • Compare the contrast the Weslake V12 with similar engines of the era and in particular the Cosworth DFV
  • Compare and contrast American driver manufacturers such as Jim Hall, Gurney and Carroll Shelby
  • An American motor magazine suggested that the Type 19 had the potential to be made into a sports car, outline a specification specific to the period and note evolution of the family range of cars Chapman considered based around the Type 30

Exhibitions, Education, Economics and Entertainment

In the museum context the editors believe that commercial considerations are both necessary and complementary with its educational objectives.

For these reasons our suggested outline Business Plan includes provision for promoting products and services which share Chapman’s ideals of mechanical efficiency and sustainability. In addition we propose merchandising that explain and interprets the social and cultural context of Chapman’s designs in period. It’s suggested there will be catalogue for on line purchasing.

In this instance we suggest the following exhibition titles might be appropriate:-

  • The Eagle has Landed
  • Where Eagles Dare
  • California Dreaming


Reinforcing Dan Gurney‘s achievements we adopt bullet points:

  • Dan Gurney had a reputation for decency and was decent well liked and respected human being
  • He had a long, successful and diverse racing career in Europe and America. He was extremely versatile
  • His skills ranged over driver, manufacture and team director
  • He engaged and advanced Anglo American collaboration through the sixties
  • His connection with Chapman and Lotus contributed significantly to their reputation, competition and possibly commercial success through sales in America
  • A combination of his approachable character ,handsome looks, race success and youth projecting a forward looking progressive outlook possibly attracted him to sponsors with the financial and technical benefits, many rubbing of for Lotus

Dan Gurney formed part of a very exciting decade that was measured on the International stage.

He formed a group that included:



Jem Marsh/Frank Costin/Marcos

Jim Hall/Chaparral

Peter Revson

Carroll Shelby

Film star action celebrities

Dan Gurney legacy and reputation is enduring and deserved. In addition from the internet we record:


Among American Formula One drivers, his 86 Grand Prix starts ranks third, and his total of four GP wins is second only to Mario Andretti. Perhaps the greatest tribute to Gurney’s driving ability, however, was paid by the father of Scottish World Champion Jim Clark. The elder Clark took Gurney aside at his son’s funeral in 1968 and confided that he was the only driver Clark had ever feared on the track. (Horton, 1999).

The 2010 Monterey Motorsports Reunion (formerly the Monterey Historic Automobile Races) was held in honor of Gurney.[18]

A 2016 academic paper reported a mathematical modeling study that assessed the relative influence of driver and machine. Gurney was ranked the 14th-best Formula One driver of all time.[19]


Racing Cars.Nye.Ward Lock.1980


Racing cars Hodges Hamlyn.1985


Lotus 9/11/15/17/19/23






Please note the editors of the A&R attempt to give the broadest spectrum of references but not all are available for consultation in an article. However by noting their existence it may assist students in their research.

*Items in italics non A&R library books.