Obit-Gurney

FILE - This Dec. 9, 1962 file photo shows Dan Gurney holding a trophy in Nassau, Bahamas. Gurney, the first driver to win in Formula One, IndyCar and NASCAR, died Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018 from complications of pneumonia. He was 86. His wife, Evi, announced his death in a statement distributed by All American Racers, Inc. (AP Photo)

Gurney

FILE - This May 31, 1969 file photo shows Grand Prix racer Dan Gurney. Gurney, the first driver to win in Formula One, IndyCar and NASCAR, died Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018 from complications of pneumonia. He was 86. His wife, Evi, announced his death in a statement distributed by All American Racers, Inc. (AP Photo)

Obit-Gurney

FILE - This July 27, 2007 file photo shows legendary race car driver Dan Gurney smiling while signing autographs during an appearance at the Concours d'Elegance historic automobile show in Newport, R.I. Gurney, the first driver to win in Formula One, IndyCar and NASCAR, died Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018 from complications of pneumonia. He was 86. His wife, Evi, announced his death in a statement distributed by All American Racers, Inc. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, file)

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Dan Gurney, the first driver with victories in each of the Formula One, IndyCar and NASCAR Cup series, died Sunday from complications of pneumonia. He was 86.

His wife, Evi, announced his death in a statement distributed by All American Racers, Inc.

"With one last smile on his handsome face, Dan drove off into the unknown just before noon today," said the statement signed by Evi Gurney, the Gurney family and AAR teammates.

"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."

Gurney began racing in 1955 and won in nearly every racing series he attempted. He drove for Ferrari, BRM, Porsche and Brabham in Formula One, then formed his own team. He won the Belgian Grand Prix in 1967 in his own car, the first and only time an American won an F1 race in a car of his own design.

Gurney teamed with AJ Foyt that year to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a Ford GT40, and he's often credited with starting the tradition of spraying the champagne from the podium at that race.

Gurney retired from driving in 1970 with 51 victories. He then became chairman and CEO of All American Racers, a title he held until he turned over control of the company to his son, Justin, in 2011. The team won 78 races, including the Indianapolis 500, the Rolex 24 at Daytona, and the Twelve Hours of Sebring along with eight championships.

As a team owner in the IMSA GTP class in 1992 and 1993, Gurney's Toyota Eagles at one point won 17 consecutive races and back-to-back driver and manufacturer championships.
 
Gurney also was responsible for the so-called "Gurney Flap," a right-angle extension on the upper trailing edge of the rear wing that increases downforce, and he introduced the full-face helmet in 1968.
 
"When we talk about legendary American drivers, owners and car constructors on an international stage, Dan Gurney is one of the all-time greats," Indianapolis Motor Speedway President J. Douglas Boles said in a statement. "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."

Mario Andretti and Juan Pablo Montoya are the only others drivers to win in each of the IndyCar, Formula One and NASCAR Cup series. Andretti hailed Gurney in a post on Twitter.

"I was first inspired by him when I was in midgets dreaming of being like him. I was last inspired by him yesterday. Yes, I mean forever," Andretti wrote. "He understood me better than anyone else, which is why he wrote the foreword for my book in 2001."

A native of Port Jefferson, New York, Gurney was enshrined in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1990 and was also a member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. 
 
Gurney is survived by his wife, Evi, and four sons. Funeral arrangements are to be private but the family asked that donations be made to the Hoag Hospital Foundation in Newport Beach in lieu of flowers.

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