UP FRONT

A let­ter to Dan Gur­ney

Cycle World - - Contents - By MARK HOYER

DDear Dan, Over the years, you were kind enough to write a few let­ters. As a let­ter writer my­self, I’d al­ways in­tended to write back to you, but some­how I didn’t feel as though I should, or maybe that I wasn’t im­por­tant enough. Get­ting to know you a lit­tle bet­ter over the years should have shown me that it would have been fine, even wel­come. You were al­ways a model of ci­vil­ity, gra­cious­ness, re­spect, and hu­mor.

One of the best ex­am­ples of this was when you in­vited Kevin Cameron and me to come talk about the mo­ment-can­cel­ing twin you and Chuck Palm­gren were build­ing, and it felt like an ac­tual con­ver­sa­tion. You and your team asked us what we thought, and gen­uinely seemed to want to know.

So it was my mis­take not to write back. I wanted to share with you two things from the time I knew you that re­ally made an im­pres­sion.

When we went to lunch back in 2002 while CW was test­ing the Al­li­ga­tor, I stopped by All Amer­i­can Rac­ers to take a walk down that fa­mous hall­way of pho­tos. At the restau­rant, con­ver­sa­tion turned to some two-stroke en­gine de­vel­op­ment, and I asked one of your guys about what he was work­ing on. He and I went back and forth about com­bus­tion-cham­ber shapes based on some ex­per­i­men­tal stuff I’d seen, and I re­marked to him, “Man, it must be a lot of fun work­ing on this kind of stuff!” With­out a pause, you turned, and with a sear­ing fo­cus in your eyes said, “It would be a lot more fun if we were hit­ting our tar­gets.” And in that mo­ment, I thought maybe I saw a tiny piece of the drive and com­pet­i­tive­ness that must have in­formed your en­tire life. I was also com­pletely ready to go back to the shop and try to help hit those tar­gets.

The other thing was that even in the face of all your ac­com­plish­ments in car rac­ing, you told me about how your love of mo­tor­cy­cling started early, and you shared this: “When I was 15, I came re­ally close to get­ting per­mis­sion from my folks to buy a Royal En­field 350cc sin­gle, but I didn’t get to. I’ve been get­ting even with them ever since!” I knew we were the same in this small way.

You were the per­fect ex­am­ple of how great hu­mans are al­ways hu­man first. For so many of us, you were the no­ble Amer­ica we all en­vi­sioned our­selves as be­ing. I wish I’d writ­ten sooner. Thank you for im­prov­ing our world.

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