Dan Gurney, legendary all-American racer, dies at 86

""With one last smile on his handsome face, Dan drove off into the unknown."

  • Image Credit: All American Racers

American racer Dan Gurney, who raced and won in Formula One, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, IndyCar and NASCAR in the 1960s and who started a trend by spraying champagne on the victory podium, died in California on Sunday. He was 86.

The news was announced by his wife, Evi, and family in a statement.

"With one last smile on his handsome face, Dan drove off into the unknown just before noon today, January 14, 2018," they said. "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.'"

The family said Gurney, whose Formula One career spanned one of the most glamorous and dangerous periods of the sport's history from 1959 to 1970, had died of complications from pneumonia.

He won seven IndyCar races, five in NASCAR and four in F1, placing second twice in the Indianapolis 500. He raced in multiple series concurrently throughout much of his career. He was the first of just three drivers to win races in four series — sports cars, Indycars, Formula One and NASCAR. The feat was later replicated by Mario Andretti and Joan Pablo Montoya.

At the height of his popularity, in 1964, Car and Driver promoted the idea of electing him president.

He retired from racing in 1970 but returned for a NASCAR race in 1980. Between 1965 and 2012, his All American Racers, which he founded with Carroll Shelby and Goodyear, built 158 race cars and is the only constructor to have built a winning F1 Grand Prix car, a winning Indy 500 car and a winning Sports Car.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin

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