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Let this light a fire under you!  The Petersen Museum in Los Angeles has opened a show dedicated to Dan Gurney and his All American Racers.

Gurney knew how to race…

The scene above shows the lanky Dan Gurney in the very foreground leaping forward in the former but once traditional Le Mans start.  It’s 1966.  He won Le Mans the following year 1967 in his Ford GT40 with AJ Foyt as his sidekick.

An insight into Dan Gurney…

During that Le Mans, Gurney had been breezing along in first place to preserve his car, when Parkes came up behind in the second-place Ferrari trailing by four laps.  Four laps = 34 miles. For several miles Parkes hounded Gurney by flashing his passing lights in his mirrors until an exasperated Gurney pulled off the course at a grassy verge at Arnage corner and stopped. Parkes stopped behind him, and the two race-leading cars sat there in the dark, until Parkes finally realized this wasn’t going to work. After a few moments, he pulled around Gurney and resumed the race, with Gurney following shortly. And on to victory.

And of course there is the time he took a potty break next to his race car in the Grand Prix of Belgium.  He just pulled over on the Spa-Francorchamps and had himself a much needed pee.   The next year, with improved bladder control, he won that race.

As a driver, Gurney won in Formula 1, Indy cars, sports cars, Can-Am cars, NASCAR stock cars and Trans-Am truly stock cars! As a constructor, he won in F1, Indy cars and sports cars, with his unusually elegant All American Racers’ Eagles.

The Petersen Automotive Museum has launched a special show to showcase a dozen iconic racers in “The Eagles Have Landed: Dan Gurney’s All American Racers.”  The exhibit opens January 28 and runs for one year.  That gives you 12 months to find an excuse to get to the Petersen in LA.

All American Racers have competed for 50 years.  They were the only American-built Formula 1 race winner of the modern era – with Gurney at the wheel. They won three Indy 500s.  AAR’s domination of the IMSA GTP class was so complete, the division was eventually extinguished.

Here are a few of the cars you can look forward to…

1968 Indy 500-winning Eagle-Offy

The number 99 AAR Eagle Mk. III GTP car won 8 of 11 events during the 1993 season

Dan Gurney in 1968 Indy 500

A pair of Eagle Indy cars finished one-two in the 1968 Indianapolis 500.  Bobby Unser won and Dan Gurney took second [above] 

Dan Gurney racing the McLeagle in 1968

Dan Gurney racing the “McLeagle” Can-Am car, AAR’s collaboration with McLaren, in 1968. Image courtesy Petersen Automotive Museum.

AAR_1970-Plymouth-Trans-Am-

Dan Gurney driving his 1970 Plymouth AAR ‘Cuda in Trans Am competition. Image courtesy AAR.

Gurney is credited with the 1970 Plymouth AAR ‘Cuda. This was a production-line muscle car setup to homologate the car for SCCA racing, just like the Camaro Z/28 and Mustang Boss 302.  2,700 ‘Cudas were built and sent to showrooms, where they a hit.  Gurney prepped a pair of racers for him and Swede Savage to compete for the Trans Am Championship, where they never quite won.

Treasured mementos will also be on display including the bottle of Moet champagne Gurney shook and sprayed from the podium at Le Mans in ’67, thereby starting that tradition among victorious racers.

If you want to know more about this racing hero and his cars, click on Gurney’s All American Racers.

If you want to see artwork of the Barracuda by one of its principal designers, click on John Samsen + Barracuda.  You can see the amazing range of concepts he developed for this sensational muscle car.

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