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Gurney's '62 win at Daytona and other media myths

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#1 Gort

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Posted 22 January 2004 - 12:48

I saw a repeat of Dave Despain's Speed Channel interview with Dan Gurney last night and Dan gave a surprising (to me) account of his famous win in Round One of the 1962 International Championship for Manufacturers and the inaugural sports car race at Daytona.

This is where he had stopped just short of the finish line with a blown engine in his race leading Lotus 19b and waited for the 3 hour race time to expire. He had barely enough lead and was able to inch over the line using his starter motor and win the race.

Much to my surprise Dan said that after in reality he simply turned left and that the banking in the tri-oval provided the impetus to cross the line and that his alleged use of the starter motor was media inspired myth.

Makes me wonder if any other legendary motorsports events have been debunked or corrected over the years.


#2 Mickey

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Posted 22 January 2004 - 13:43

I suppose that a few of the legendary feats attributed to Nuvolari were later corrected...

There is an infamous rather than legendary event that got corrected many years later, and this thanks to none other than the host of this forum!

From Atlas F1 Magazine:
Tales from the Thirties: Tripoli, 1933 by Don Capps.

#3 Kvadrat

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 07:31

Never heard Gurney story before. I checked statistics and found that two other cars were classified with the same number of laps completed so Gurney really was lucky to stop just before the finish of the race. It was 3 hour race but 82 completed laps were just above 500 kms. Was there a rule that 500 km race should be stopped after 3 hours if not all laps were completed?

If possible please tell more about this acident.

#4 simonlewisbooks

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 10:54

On the matter of Gurney and media 'myths' I've always wondered about the story that Jim Clark's parents recounted to Dan at Jim's funeral ; that Gurney was "the only driver Jim feared".

Now this is a nice story and I don't doubt it was said but I wonder if it's meaning has been distorted somewhat down the years by eager journo's to make it seem, perhaps, more than it was?

It has come to to mean in many people's eyes that Gurney simply must have been the 2nd best driver of the era - because Clark was scared of him.

Indeed there have been some articles that seem to rate Gurney's talent on this comment alone rather than on his formidable record of race wins. This, I think, sells Dan short to those who are unaware of him outside of F1.

It reminds me of the perception that Chris Amon was the 'unluckiest driver' simply because he never won a world championship GP - which rather ignores what he won outside of the world championship but make for a good pidgeon-hole to fit him into...

Simon Lewis
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#5 David M. Kane

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 13:19

Oh! Boy!...


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Posted 30 November 2005 - 15:02

The Dan Gurney/Arciero Lotus 19/Daytona Continental 1962 finish has been discussed extensively on an earlier thread.

In this case it is not a "media" myth but a "Gurney" myth and it is unfortunate that Dave Despain prefers to play around with his elaborate headsets rather than contribute to the accuracy in motor racing history.

Gurney's Lotus 19 crossed the start/finish line straight as an arrow on its starter motor after the 3-Hour mark was reached, captured on film and in sequential photo coverage of the race. Only after passing the finish by a car's length did Gurney turn the wheel to let gravity take him to the infield. His chief mechanic Jerry Eisert confirmed the "starter motor" straight finish and after the race he had to show the suspicious officials that the blown Climax engine could still churn. If the car had not finished on its own power [whatever it was] it would have been disqualified.

It must have been a very tense moment for Gurney, who had to wait out the 3 Hour mark, but his lead over Rodriguez's Dino 246 and Hall's Chaparral was wide enough to make it happen, with the top three cars finishing on the same lap. Too bad Gurney's recollection of the finish is garbled and this has created another one of those myth.