GURNEY’S PERFECT STORM
Asking Dan Gurney to name his favorite
Eagle Indy car is like asking him to pick his
favorite son; it’s nearly impossible because
he loves every one of them.
The first one in 1966, the Len Terry-penned, Lotus 38-based Mark 2, is special
because, well, it was first.
And Gurney stuck 1967’s Mark 3 in the
middle of the front row, before back-to-back
runner-up finishes in the ’ 68 and ’ 69 Eagles.
That ’ 68 design, Mark 4, also put an Eagle in
Indy’s victory lane for the first time, courtesy
of Bobby Unser and owner Bob Wilke.
The 1970 version was sentimental since it
was Dan’s swansong as a driver and he
finished third in his last “500,” while 1972’s
7200 and its subsequent iterations are right
up there for what they achieved, including two
Indy 500 wins and a national championship.
But Gurney’s favorite is one that won a
single race, yet ticks all the boxes for his
enduring fascination with technology and
innovation – the 1981 Pepsi Challenger.
“Yes, it was different and unique from an
Eagle, but I’m most proud of that car; it
IF DAN HAD TO CHOOSE JUST ONE...
Unsung Mike Mosley qualified second at
Indy with a normally-aspirated engine against
all those turbos, but was thwarted by a
blocked radiator in the race. Still, the
combination came from last to first to win
Milwaukee. It also was easily winning Riverside
with Geoff Brabham, and Watkins Glen with
Rocky Moran, when foiled by bad pit stops.
“It was unique in that it was a great
road-race car and equally as potent on
ovals, and I was so proud of it because our
guys designed it, built it and improved it,”
adds Gurney, whose design was legislated
out by CART’s kangaroo court that winter.
“And what made it even better was
when Ben Bowlby crawled under it a couple
years ago here at the shop and digitized
the bottom of it. He put it into CFD
[computational fluid dynamics] and his
eyes bugged out when he realized what
they had, so they put it on the Delta Wing
two weeks before Le Mans in 2012.
“Something AAR had done 30-some
years earlier was still relevant – and that
made us all feel good.”
We asked “The Big Eagle,” Dan Gurney, to choose his favorite Indy car – and it may not be the one you think.
was terrific and it’s my favorite,” he admits.
As an improved version of the 1980
Eagle that was All American Racers’ initial
venture into ground effects, designer John
Ward came up with a sleek package that
was way ahead of its time. It looked space
age and ran like a rocket ship.
The 1968 Eagle, the
Mark 4, finished
1- 2-4 at the Indy
500. Bobby Unser’s
car (MAIN) headed
home Dan Gurney’s
AAR factory car, with
Denis Hulme’s AAR
machine in fourth.
Like its 1980 predecessor, the John Ward-designed Eagle 8100 made downforce from
boundary layer adhesion technology (BLAT),
harnessing vortex flows underneath the car.