Motorcyclist Dan Gurney Passes Away

A Gurney-sponsored race bike at Daytona in 1973.Image protected by copyright
A Gurney-sponsored race bike at Daytona in 1973. Note the remote oiling system built in front of the exhaust headers.

F1 world champion Dan Gurney passed away last weekend at age 87.

A host of riders were sponsored by Gurney in the 1970s, from Kenny Roberts to Chuck Palmgren. Gurney was a motorbike fan and passionate rider for nearly his entire life; like most things that interested Gurney he was also passionate about the engineering behind motorcycles. Gurney never fully liked sitting on top of a sport bike, and his distinct Alligator or “Gator ” motorcycles reflected his thoughts on how a motorcycle might be engineered if one were staring over with a clean sheet of paper. 

Universally respected for his accomplishments in car racing, Gurney owned at least 25 motorcycles. Friends that rode with him say he lived for Sunday rides on the Ortega Highway.

For a man who knew and was close to Mike Hailwood, for example, Gurney wasn’t stuck in a sentimental mindset–he still designing and patenting motorcycle designs nearly until his death last weekend from complications of pneumonia.

Gurney was no wobbler–he was fast on a motorcycle. He was renown for blitzing by hordes of sport bikes in the California canyons–usually with Gurney riding a painfully stock Gold Wing.

Four-time world champion Eddie Lawson and Gurney were close friends until Gurney’s death.

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