American Racing Legend Dan Gurney Dies At 86 After Bout With Pneumonia

Dan Gurney, the first race car driver to win all the three major competitions — Formula One, IndyCar and NASCAR, died Sunday at the age of 86 due to complications from pneumonia.

Gurney’s wife, Evi Butz Gurney, announced the legend's death in a statement and said the funeral ceremony will be conducted privately according to Gurney’s wish.

The statement from Evi, the Gurney family and the All American Racing (AAR) teammates said, “With one last smile on his handsome face, Dan drove off into the unknown just before noon today .”

“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,’” it added.

According to a report by ESPN, Gurney won four Formula One races, five NASCAR competitions and seven IndyCar races from the years 1962 to 1970. He also won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1967 by collaborating with A.J. Foyt. Apart from Gurney, Mario Andretti and Juan Pablo Montoya were the only other drivers to win races in all the three competitions.

Andretti took to Twitter to offer condolences. He said he was inspired by the late American racing legend.

J. Douglas Boles, the president of Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a statement said, “When we talk about legendary American drivers, owners and car constructors on an international stage, Dan Gurney is one of the all-time greats.”

“His skill in all three areas helped him make an indelible mark and serve as a huge influence in this sport. Dan was a giant in the racing world in every sense. Our sincere condolences and prayers are with his wife, Evi, and the entire Gurney family. Godspeed, Dan Gurney,” added Boles.

Gurney, a resident of Long Island, New York, started racing in the year 1955. In Formula One, Gurney drove for racing teams which included Ferrari, Porsche, BRM and Braham and he also formed his own racing team later. He won the Belgian Grand Prix in 1967 with a car he designed himself. That was the first and only time when a driver from the United States won a Formula One race with a car which was designed by the driver, ESPN reported.

President of the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), Scott Atherton in a statement said, “The word 'legend' can sometimes be overused, but in describing Daniel Sexton Gurney, it's the only word that fits .”

Atherton continued, “Dan Gurney was an American racing legend who accomplished nearly all there was to accomplish as a driver in our sport, from sports cars to NASCAR, Indy cars to Formula One. Dan was an innovative car builder and a lifelong steward of motorsports beyond his on-track performance."

Gurney was one of the founders of the Championship Auto Racing Teams, which allowed cars with open-wheels to race from 1979 to 2008. He was one of the first drivers to use a racing helmet.

A statement from the president of Daytona International Speedway, Chip Wile, said, “Dan's success -- and his sheer presence ... helped elevate our facility to the world-wide stature that our founder, Bill France Sr., originally envisioned.”

“As a driver, this man helped establish the speedway as a pre-eminent road-racing circuit. Years later, as a champion car owner in IMSA, he helped cement the speedway's legacy in that regard. We all are fortunate to have crossed his path,” added Wile.

Gurney left racing after retiring from the sport in 1970. He had 51 victories to his name.

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