Legendary race car driver Dan Gurney, who died Jan. 14 at 86, had a long career filled with wins. He was the first driver to win races in Indy, Grand Prix, NASCAR and sports cars.
But he also played a major role in one of Ford Motor Co.'s greatest eras — its racing success under Henry Ford II and Lee Iacocca in the 1960s.
It was Gurney who in 1962 brought British Formula One designer, Lotus founder and lightweighting genius Colin Chapman together with Ford. That led to the rear-engine "Lotus powered by Ford" cars that revolutionized Indianapolis in the mid-1960s, transforming the 500 from front-engine, Offenhauser-powered roadsters to the rear-mounted Ford V-8s — the Formula One-style cars Gurney advocated.
In 1967, Gurney teamed with A.J. Foyt to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a Ford GT40 Mk IV, a car that reverberates to this day in the company's product and performance culture. Ford won Le Mans four consecutive times, from 1966 to 1969, and the Gurney-Foyt win was the first time the race had been won by an American driver in an American car. Indeed, it may have been the highlight of Gurney's career.