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Recently, our friends at the Revs Institute fired up one of their crown jewels—the Eagle Mk1 in which Dan Gurney took victory at the 1967 Belgian Grand Prix. They're prepping the car for the Monterey Historics in August, so they fired up its 3.0-liter Eagle Weslake V-12 and ran some laps in the parking lot, capturing everything on video for our enjoyment. YouTube's recommendation algorithm then did something unusually good and pointed us in the direction of a 2012 Speed channel (RIP) documentary on the car. As we wind down from the Fourth of July, I can't think of a better thing to watch.
The Eagle Mk1 holds the distinction of being the only American-made car driven by an American driver to win a Formula 1 Grand Prix. It is also one of the most beautiful cars—race or otherwise—ever built, and the engineering behind it is compelling. The short documentary is presented by Bob Varsha, with Steve Machett and David Hobbs getting up close with the car down at the Revs Institute in Florida. There's also a spoken appearance by longtime Road & Track contributor Sam Posey.
Seeing the Eagle Mk1 stripped of its bodywork is a real treat. This car is from an era before F1 cars grew wings to generate downforce, but Gurney's All American Racers team worked very hard to make the Mk1 a very low-drag machine. Every component on the car is beautifully made, as you'd expect from AAR, and you could stare for hours.
The Mk1 wasn't perfect—Machett points out that the V-12 suffered from oil scavenging issues as the sump was at the front of the car and the engine was so long—but it was good enough to beat the best of Europe at Spa. Despite a persistent engine miss, Gurney averaged 145 mph around the old, fast Spa circuit, in what was one of the highlights of his career. In an interview, Gurney says he used to be apprehensive about flying in the Sixties, and worried that the plane would go down before he'd won a Formula 1 Grand Prix in his own car. With the Spa victory, he felt his life was complete, and never worried again.
Thankfully Gurney lived until 86, and continued to build groundbreaking race cars. Though none quite capture the imagination like the Mk1.
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