In 1967 — 45 years ago this June (the race was held earlier in the season in those days) — American Dan Gurney drove his own F1 car to victory in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps. It remains the first and only US-built machine to win in the modern Formula One era, and was one of the prettiest F1 cars in history.
Watching Dan Gurney take his now-classic All American Racers Eagle-Weslake car around the slick circuit at Spa, while listening to him recant racing, and winning, back in 1967, makes this video really special. A machine of simplistic beauty, it’s amazing how much drivers accomplished back then with so little.
Gurney set a new lap record to catch and pass Jackie Stewart eight laps from the end and gain a maiden victory, by more than a minute, for the magnesium and titanium Eagle car. The light weight and advanced aerodynamics of the Eagle made it very fast, and Gurney shattered Tony Brooks’ record Grand Prix average of 143 mph (set some eight years earlier) on his way to victory. The Eagle was timed at 196mph on the straightaway, an extraordinary speed for a car with an engine producing (at that time) something less than 400 hp.
Spa was the first and only time in the 100-year history of Grand Prix racing that an American had driven a car of his own construction into the winner’s circle of an F1 World Championship event. No one has since duplicated this effort and is unlikely to do so as it has become far too expensive for an individual and a small, independent racing organization to attempt the feat.