Tag Archives: Dan Gurney

Die-cast: Automodello’s 1981 AAR Gurney Eagles

Automodello’s Gurney Eagles are beauties …

1981 AAR Gurney Eagle
The 1981 Pepsi Challenge (No. 48) driven by Mike Mosley and the blue White Castle entry driven by Chip Mead at the Indy 500.

Dan Gurney stopped racing at the enf 1970, but his influence on open-wheel racing continued for decades afterward. Yet the 1970s and early 1980s were the zenith for his All-American Racers (AAR) Eagles.

Gurney’s Santa Ana, Calif.-based shop turned out highly competitive Eagle chassis for the Indy Car series. Eagles were consistent winners. Even the ultra-successful Team Penske used them for a while as they were outperforming Penske’s own chassis.

Yet in 1981 AAR went a whole new route with its design, making virtually everything behind the driver’s cockpit into a wing that created terrific downforce to increase cornering speeds.

Now, Automodello joins Replicarz in creating high-quality 1/43 scale resin historic Indy racers with its model of the AAR 1981 Eagle that sat on the front row for the Indy 500 and won a race in Milwaukee. It also makes a second Eagle that was entered in the 1981 race.

The History1981 AAR Gurney Eagle

The radical Eagle design with its broad, flat rear side pods and extension behind the rear wheels, plus a small wing atop what was essentially a lower wing, caught everyone at the 500 by surprise. Mike Mosley, a speedy Indy veteran with tough luck, was the driver of Gurney’s famous No. 48.

In addition to its design, including two large air scoops hanging off the engine cover to feed air to its fragile Chevrolet V8, the Eagle was painted a bright yellow and white and labeled the Pepsi Challenger. Continue reading Die-cast: Automodello’s 1981 AAR Gurney Eagles

Die-cast: Replicarz’s 1970s Indy Eagles

Indy 500 Eagles continue to fly, multiply at Replicarz  …Replicarz 1975 Indy 500 Eagle

Dan Gurney remains one of the biggest names in open-wheel racing. His Eagle race cars dominated the Indianapolis 500 and Indycar circuit in the late 1960s through much of the 1970s, but really set the establishment on its ear starting in 1972.

That’s when Bobby Unser debuted the new Eagle with its giant rear spoiler and upped the speed ante to nearly 200 mph by putting his Olsonite Eagle on the pole at 195.8 mph, 3 mph faster than Peter Revson’s McLaren.

Replicarz, which previously released the 1973 STP Team’s Eagles of winner Gordon Johncock and teammate Swede Savage in 1/18 scale, now delivers three new Eagles in 1/43 scale. Back is the Johncock car, with just 200 being made, along with limited runs of 300 for both Unser’s white 1972 pole car and  1975 Indy winner, the blue Jorgensen Eagle..

The History

Bobby Unser won Indy in 1968 in a Gurney Eagle, while Gurney himself was second. Gurney would place second and third the next two years, then retire. Yet his Eagles, made by All-American Racers in Santa Ana, Calif., soared. They won 51 Indycar races.Replicarz 1972 Indy 500 Eagle

The Olsonite Eagle that Bobby Unser put on the pole in 1972 was the tipping point toward Eagles being the top Indycar of the time. That year it led the first 30 laps of the race before an ignition rotor failed sidelining Unser. He finished 30th. But by the next May, 21 of Indy’s 33 starters drove Eagles, including the winner, Johncock.

A McLaren, the other major player at the time, won the following year when 19 Eagles made the field, but Unser was back in the winner’s circle in 1975 with his blue No. 48. Eagles made up roughly half the Indy field. Continue reading Die-cast: Replicarz’s 1970s Indy Eagles

Die-cast: Spark 1:43 DeltaWing 12 Hours of Sebring

Spark delivers uniquely shaped DeltaWing racer

Every once in a while a new shape surprises the racing world. In the late 1950s and early ‘60s it was the rear-engined F1 racer that eventually took the Indianapolis 500 by storm. In the 1970s it was the 6-wheeled Tyrrell F1 racer. Today it’s the DeltaWing.delta1

This shiny silver racer features a triangular shape with two wheels close together in its needle-like nose and a wider rear-end complete with a vertical wing, so a delta wing shape. Spark Models now brings the shape to an eye-catching 1:43 diecast model that will stand out in any racecar collection.

The History

DeltaWing, the racer, started on the drawing board of designer Ben Bowlby back in 2009 and originally was a proposed chassis for IndyCar, which was looking to revamp its racecar package. While it didn’t fly among the upper brass there, likely because it wasn’t a fully open-wheeled racer, it did gain support in the racing world.

Ostensibly the DeltaWing’s design is aimed at cutting drag so it is faster in a straight line and also more fuel efficient, plus reducing weight for better fuel economy. Its nose is thin with the front wheels creating just a 2-foot wide track, while the rear tires’ track is about 5 ½-feet wide. You’d think the car would be unsteady, but it’s not and turns crisply into turns.

delta2Major IndyCar team owner Chip Ganassi funded the DeltaWing project and Dan Gurney’s noted All-American Racers built it to be entered as an experimental racer at the 24 Hours of LeMans in 2012. Nissan provided the engine, originally a 1.6-liter turbo I4. At LeMans it qualified 29th out of 50+ cars and was running well before being involved in an accident with another racer. Continue reading Die-cast: Spark 1:43 DeltaWing 12 Hours of Sebring

Die-cast: Automodello Mustang I

Automodello cranks out a rare Mustang I in 1:24th

OK, I get it, not all you plastic modelers are diecast nuts like me. But how about a resin Mustang I Concept car, and in 1:24 scale no less.Mustang1

That’s what the folks over at Automodello have cranked out for you, and only a limited number will be made – 499 to be exact. There’s also a limited run 1:43 model too. But let’s get to the history and the model here.

The History:

Sports and sporty cars had been the rage throughout the 1950s among the racing set. Chevrolet had responded with its Corvette and Ford went a bit more luxury touring oriented with its Thunderbird.

Next up was Chevrolet’s lower cost sports coupe, the Corvair, with its rear-mounted engine. Ford needed an answer.

So in 1962 Ford tried something different, an open 2-seater that was quick and light and independently sprung at all four wheels. Ford’s new baby was the Mustang I, a concept that noted Formula 1 racer Dan Gurney showed off during an F1 race weekend at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) in October of 1962, setting times that were nearly competitive with the open-wheeled racers running in that weekend’s F1 race.

The white hand-hammered aluminum bodied concept car was petite, with a 90-inch wheelbase, an 89-horse V4 and tipping the scales at just 1,148 lbs. and with a top speed of 100 mph. Folks at the Watkins Glen race weekend were eager to get their hands on the car. But in its concept design, the Mustang was not to be. However, two years later the iconic Mustang sports coupe would debut, also in New York, this time at the World’s Fair.

The historic Mustang I Concept got the ball rolling and lent its name to what would become Ford’s iconic pony car. Now Automodello out of Buffalo Grove, Ill., releases a sharp 1:24 re-creation, along with a 1:43 scale model, both in finely detailed resin. The company says just 499 will be made in the larger scale, while 150 Tribute Editions are planned. Those will all be signed by Gurney, its first on-track driver, and cost $150 more. We reviewed the standard 1:24 version. Continue reading Die-cast: Automodello Mustang I

Die-cast: Spark 1:43 1966 Indy 500 Winner

Graham Hill’s Indy winning Lola a small gemindy

I was sitting in the packed main grandstand just shy of the pit exit for the flying start of the 1966 Indianapolis 500 when tires and suspension pieces and racer nosecones started exploding in the air. It was eerily similar to two years earlier, but without the fire and smoke, when I’d witnessed the most horrifying crash in Indy history. Thankfully, this time, no one was seriously injured.

But in the melee about a third of the starting field was eliminated, including favorites like A.J. Foyt, Dan Gurney and Don Branson. Yet a British rookie and Formula 1 champion, Graham Hill, picked his way through the carnage in his rear-engined Lola to run near the front all day. Favorite and 1965 Indy champ Jim Clark was setting a strong pace in his brilliant red STP Lotus, but he spun twice during the race, leading to folks saying that STP stands for Spinning Takes Practice. Hill snuck past Clark on one spin though, ultimately gaining the win after another F1 great, and Hill’s teammate, Jackie Stewart’s car failed with less than 10 laps remaining.

indy2Racers were simpler and more delicate looking, yet beautiful, in the 1960s. Now Spark Model delivers a stellar version of the red and white American Red Ball Special that Hill drove to the 1966 Indy win, in 1:43 scale.

Continue reading Die-cast: Spark 1:43 1966 Indy 500 Winner

Die-cast: Autoart F1 Porsche 804

Autoart’s rare F1 Porsche ‘simply’ beautiful

How rare is Autoart’s new silver F1 Porsche 804?porsche1

Well, consider that you probably didn’t know that Porsche ever raced Formula 1, and won. Consider too that only four of these cars were ever made.

Thanks to Autoart, that number is now growing, of course these are 1:18 scale diecast, so not quite as fast, or as dangerous as the originals.

A little background
In the early 1960s, the racing world, led by Formula 1 in Europe, was transitioning from front-engine to rear-engine cars. Porsche joined Ferrari, Lotus and others in developing new chassis and engines to show off their design capabilities.

Porsche was only in it for a short time, with moderate success in 1961 with its 718 and 787 models. But in 1962 Porsche created the slim 804 racer that won Porsche its one and only F1 race, the French Grand Prix at Rouen. American Dan Gurney drove the car, beating Tony Maggs’ Cooper by a lap. Gurney also won the non-points Solitude Grand Prix shortly thereafter.

porsche 4This is Autoart’s version of that racer’s sister car, as driven by Joakin (Jo) Bonnier at Germany’s Nurburgring later that summer. The Gurney car also is available from Autoart, and both models also are available with driver figures. Continue reading Die-cast: Autoart F1 Porsche 804

Die-cast: Replicarz 1973 STP Indy 500 Eagles

Replicarz creates scorching ’73 Indy Eagles

The 1973 Indy 500 winning Eagle, driven by Gordon Johncock.
The 1973 Indy 500 winning Eagle, driven by Gordon Johncock.

Editor’s Note: An earlier review I did on similar models was pre-production prototypes. These are the real deal and are on sale now from Replicarz.
Swede Savage was not a relative of mine, but as a teen in the 1970s I was a big fan, mainly because of the name and his association with AAR and Dan Gurney. But Swede was always quick and the blinding fluorescent red of his 1973 STP racer made pulling for Swede an easy task. He and long-time top-tier racer Gordon Johncock were teammates that year, creating an exciting duo, both with a good shot at winning the 1973 Indianapolis 500.Now Replicarz has nailed both the color and the giant-winged Eagle racers themselves. The No. 20 was driven to victory by two-time Indy champ Johncock, and No. 40 by his youthful teammate Savage.

Johncock’s ’73 winner was created a few years back by Carousel 1, and that was well executed, but Replicarz ups the ante. First, the color is much closer to the glaring red that STP used. Replicarz also updated the driver’s seat to make it matte white, creating a more realistic look along with the cars’ black-trimmed-in-white numbers, which are more true to the actual cars that raced in the tragic, rain-shortened 1973 Indy 500.

johncock1Replicarz also includes a lot more sponsor logos on the cars’ side pods. Logos include the likes of Ashland Oil, Bell helmets, Aeroquip, Raybestos, Perfect Circle and PowerHouse.

Brian Fothergill of Replicarz tells me that he and his design team have modeled the cars as closely as possible to the way they were raced. That means more logos than a car might have had during practice or qualifying. A web search turned up the 1973 winner and indeed, the decals match very closely. Continue reading Die-cast: Replicarz 1973 STP Indy 500 Eagles