Dan Gur­ney

Old Bike Australasia - - UNDER THE CHEQUERED FLAG -

Amer­i­can mo­tor rac­ing leg­end DAN GUR­NEY passed away on Jan­uary 14, from com­pli­ca­tions due to pneu­mo­nia, aged 86. Although far bet­ter known as a rac­ing driver, with a Le Mans 24 Hour win and four For­mula One Grands Prix wins to his credit, Gur­ney was also a keen mo­tor­cy­clist and de­signed his own quite rev­o­lu­tion­ary mo­tor­cy­cle, the Al­li­ga­tor. This was a feet-first style with an ul­tra low cen­tre of grav­ity. He also de­signed a new twin-cylin­der mo­tor­cy­cle en­gine with two counter-ro­tat­ing crankshafts to can­cel out pri­mary vi­bra­tion, which re­put­edly pro­duced 280hp at 9,000 rpm. In the 1970s, Gur­ney was a part­ner (with Kim Kim­ball) in the US Mon­tesa im­por­ta­tion firm, and be­came a noted two-stroke tuner. Among his many mo­tor­cy­cling friends Gur­ney in­cluded Mick Doohan, Kenny Roberts and fel­low en­gi­neer­ing whizz and rev­o­lu­tion­ary con­struc­tor John Brit­ten.

One of the Gur­ney Al­li­ga­tors, from 2002, fit­ted with a Honda 600 en­gine, on dis­play at the Bar­ber Mu­seum, Alabama.

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