One of the highlights of this year’s 35th Long Beach Grand Prix weekend was the Road Racing Drivers’ Club’s dinner with Dan Gurney. A full house of 250 guests turned out to honour Dan, and RRDC president Bobby Rahal confirmed the club’s long-term commitment to Team USA, the scholarship programme set up by British journalist Jeremy Shaw for promising American open-wheel racers. The proceeds from the dinner will go to support Team USA, and Rahal hopes the annual event will provide not only an enjoyable evening in Long Beach, but also help to build support for Shaw’s project.
There were surprise guests at the dinner too, in the shape of Tony Brooks and his wife Pina. English gent Brooks was Dan’s team-mate at Ferrari in 1959 in both F1 and sports cars, and after dinner Murray Smith conducted a short chat about those days, first with Dan and then with Brooks. Among the star-studded assembly of racing folk were former RRDC president Brian Redman, Tony Adamowicz, John Morton, Danny Sullivan, Dario and Marino Franchitti, David Brabham and Alex Gurney, plus former F1 mechanic and current Indy Lights boss Roger Bailey, and the ALMS/IMSA bosses Don Panoz and Scott Atherton.
Parnelli Jones, Bob Bondurant and Linda Vaughan sat at my table, while Chip Ganassi and his dad Floyd were nearby. Derek Hill and his mother Alma were also there. Derek is developing a documentary about his late father, and Alma and he are working with Doug Nye on the official Phil Hill biography. Written by our prolifically informed man, the book will be published in 2011 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Phil’s World Championship.