How Gurney got a grip on blister trouble

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How Gurney got a grip on blister trouble

MY BIG BROTHER, ROD, TAUGHT ME TO DRIVE IN A Standard Vanguard Mark I. He is eight years my senior and taught me Army-style, no compromise, no sympathy. One of the first things to make him bawl at me was my white-knuckle grip on the steering wheel. “Relax!” he would roar. “Stroke it don’t strangle 1-r. His ‘advice’ ahem, blunt order has stood me in good stead since. Perhaps in the ’50s he could have told Dan Gurney a thing or two. At the Goodwood Revival I reminded Dan that BRM works drawings survive from his 1960 season with them, detailing the specially outsized steering wheel rim and gear lever grip he had requested. One mgt conclude that the tall, muscular former Ferrari driver was some kind of Desperate Dan, a

of Desperate Dan, a steering wheel breaker, prone to ripping out gear levers by their roots. Not so, Dan recalled: “Early in my career I had a real problem with blistering my hands. I’d finish a race with my palms and fingers red raw, and that took time to recover. So I figured a thicker steering wheel rim and bigger shiff would spread the load and solve the problem. I’d got Ferrari to do that for me in ’59 and BRM the same in ’60. But later in my

career the blistering just went away. I guess what really happened was that as I gained experience so I relaxed. I just took a suffer grip on the wheel and shiff…”. Tony Brooks quite independently of this conversation recalled how, when Dan was his junior team-mate at Ferrari in 1959, he saw the size of the newcomer’s steering-wheel rim and gear knob (gearchange ‘handle’ would be a more

accurate description) as a dastardly ploy to deter de facto team leader Brooks from taking over Dan’s car should he need to. “Outrageous!”, Tony beamed, in mock disgust. As he Cambered out of the works Ferrari TR59 in which he’d chauffeured Dan around on their laps of honour during the Revival Gurney Tribute,

Tony grumbled: “This time I’m just the taxi driver don’t suppose there’s any chance of a tip either…”. Dan, for all hB protestations that it was his early death-grip blistering problem which led to the special-sized steering wheel rims and gearchanges of his Ferrari and BRM periods, later chuckled and did admit to me that “Of course racing in those days, you couldn’t afford to gran’ma a shiff”. Brother Rod mgt have sorted him out… EP

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