Dan Gurney and his All American Racers team had a frustrating Can Am season in 1969, when they fielded a version of the McLaren M6B that Gurney heavily modified in attempts to improve its performance. Throughout the 1969 Can Am season, his McLeagle appeared at each race with different modifications. Gurney, long affiliated with Ford, raced several versions of Ford power plants that season, but never found an engine that would allow him to contend for victory. Frustrated by missing six races in 1969 due to failure of Ford to supply suitable engines, AAR used big block Chevrolet engines for the final three races on the ’69 Can Am season.
An alliance with Chevrolet had begun. Gurney surreptitiously explored a longer term relationship with Chevrolet for the next Can Am season. Negotiations had to be kept secret due to GM’s official stance that they were not involved in racing. Gurney’s contact with GM, an Italian engineer and designer from Turin named Giuseppe Irarrefi, encouraged him to abandon the McLeagle and contact Jim Hall. Irarrefi had clandestinely received permission from GM president and CEO Edward Cole to encourage the alliance of Gurney and Chevrolet, with a goal of formally sponsoring Gurney. With Irarrefi acting as an intermediary from GM, Hall and Gurney formed an alliance that would see Gurney campaign the first Chaparral customer car for the 1970 Can Am season.
For 1970, Hall’s Chaparral works had developed the radical 2H ground effects car. In the winter of ’69, Gurney’s AAR team took delivery of two Chaparral 2E’s and set about readying them for the coming Can Am season. They would mark the reentry of Chevrolet to racing, the first time since 1957.
The alliance was short lived. When GM’s board of directors found out about the AAR Chaparrals, they forced Hall to cancel the arrangement. Irarrefi was fired and Cole censured by the board, which demanded the return of the “customer” cars from Gurney’s California offices to Hall in Midland, Texas. Under threat of legal proceedings, GM’s Board demanded that the arrangement between Gurney and Hall be terminated and that no information of the alliance be released to the public.
Gurney, having purchased and begun development of the “customer” Chaparrals, refused to return them, but could not legally race them in the 1970 season. The cars, still under legal restraint, set in a private area of Gurney’s All American Racer’s garages.
For the 1970 season, Hall raced the radical 2H, which would later be banned. Gurney, with no car for the Can Am, accepted a ride with the McLaren team when Bruce McLaren was killed just prior to the start of the 1970 Can Am season.
The Gurney Chaparrals remain in storage in California. There is speculation from the AAR shops that they may soon be released and raced in HSR events. Gurney and Hall continue to officially deny that the cars exist.
In the fall of 2011, Gurney and Hall allowed Slot.it an exclusive visit to the AAR shops to view the cars. Based upon that visit, Slot.it has released the Gurney AAR “Chaparral” as it would have been raced in 1970, with sponsorship from Chevrolet.
Great looking car and a well-woven story . If only had driven for Hall in '69 instead of Surtees we might have seen the original 2H . And we wouldn't have had to read about Surtees whining before he got too busy to run some of the Can Am races that year . Andrea De Adamich ? Really ?
If you look at Gurney's career he has a habit of making what turns out to be the wrong choices after he has made them . probably the single best example is leaving Brabham after the '65 season . This is , of course , just before the stars aligned so Brabham cars could win 2 consecutive World Championships . It is not beyond imagination that if the team had been Dan and Black Jack that Gurney might have been a back-to-back champ .
P.S. Do you think the announcement of the release of the 2 cars from AAR will come next april 1st ?
Last year I was taken hook, line & sinker by an April Fools joke on the Italia Slot bulletin board. When Mauricio kindly pointed out the joke, he provided an explanation of the April Fools Italian translation:
"April's fool is "Pesce d'Aprile", that is "April's fish", and btw 'Hal' is Hungarian for 'fish'
I don't speak Hungarian at hal , I mean, at all, but Google translator does.
I think the saying "April's fish" origins from fish and bait. It means "you're a fish", having swallowed the bait.
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Attaching a paper fish on someone's back is still popular amongst children
Anyway - back to the subject: maybe "Jesters do oft prove prophets"
mmmmhhh... who knows.
Well I know
Hmmmmm......"maybe Jesters do oft prove prophets."