If you wanted to portray a great American you would create somebody like Dan Gurney. Lean, tall, talented, good-looking, lit with a broad Californian smile he personified all the best of the country. His All-American Racers of Santa Ana, founded with another great, Carroll Shelby, inspired the Anglo-American Eagle that in 1967 won the first victory for an American grand prix car since 1921. American as baseball and apple pie, Dan embraced Britain and its racing car engineering from rural Rye, Sussex next door to Harry Weslake. Britain embraced Dan.
In the tough old Grand Prix Circus of 1959 to 1970, Dan Gurney’s generous spirit was engaging. Skilled and clever, you willed him to win because he was approachable and honest, laughed a lot and was one of us. Geoff Goddard’s photographs captured the moment at the 1964 Belgian Grand Prix when, stranded by a flat battery, Jim Clark stopped alongside him after the finish. Both thought Bruce McLaren had won but officials had bungled the chequered flag. The pure joy of both when told Clark had won was perfect motor racing theatre. It was a symptom of the rapport each had for the other.
I cherish a letter Dan wrote me: “Your beautiful book has arrived. I am terribly moved not only by the way in which you included me, but by the memories the writing and the photographs evoke. His many friends and competitors look out of the pages with faces forever young. Even after all those years it is hard for me to talk about Jimmy.”
Sensitive kindly Dan signed a picture for me in the 1990s. We met up at a function in the old Lotus headquarters, Ketteringham Hall. We were both moved. It is the end, alas, of another chapter.