Road and Track - December 1979
the appointed day of the "reunion." we all met at Laguna Seca. Phil and
Dan arrived in Phil's Blower Bentley, and the pair of them looked like
a couple of retired race drivers who had lost their way to Brooklands.
The car was still on the trailer because it was the original trailer,
and Mike Shoen wanted to impress us with the authenticity of the whole
rig. After being duly impressed, we helped unload the car and Mike gave
the keys to Dan, who climbed in.
Mike Shoen pointed out to us
the car still had what was originally known as the "Dan Gurney FIA
windshield." When the car was raced, the FIA regulations were very
strict in regard to the dimensions of the car. For instance, the car's
trunk lid is bulged to accept the regulation HA suitcase and the
windshield was required to he a certain height. Dan and the other
drivers were never happy with the windshield and wanted it lower, so a
modification was made so it could be inspected in the regulation
position. but after the race started the wind blew it down to a
position where Dan was comfortable with it.
turned the key and hit the starter button. The engine burst into
life with the loud blatting sound characteristic of a tuned V-8. After
a minute or two for warming up, he took off up the track like he really
meant business and we could hear him accelerating all the way up the
hill. then shifting down for the corkscrew and accelerating down the
hill before braking hard for the 90-degree turn leading back onto the
pit straight. He certainly wasn't hanging around and after several more
laps he came in, slammed on the brakes and jumped out with his face
wreathed in smiles like he was in his second childhood. His first
remark was that it felt like it was only a week ago, instead of 15
yeah, since he raced the Cobras.
next, and he got
straight on it too, not to be outdone by Dan. Being able to get Dan and
Phil together was a stroke of great good fortune, because the two of
them used to spend a lot of time in each other's company and they
competed with one another both on and off the track. There are many
hilarious stories of the tricks they played on each other.
Phil came in, he also said the car was exactly as he|
and he could recall vividly how it understeered but that this could
easily be corrected with the throttle. He also recalled the
considerable amount of brake pad knockoff. This refers to the way in
which flexing of the suspension due to hard cornering or a rough
surface caused the brake discs to knock the pads back so you had a low
pedal when you applied the brakes. Although disconcerting, it was not
serious and could be controlled by pressing the brake pedal with the
left foot to bring the pads back into position before braking heavily.
Dan. driving the car brought hack a host of happy memories. Driving the
Cobras was one of the most exciting times in his life, and the main
reason was that it involved a bunch of guys from Los Angeles taking on
the cream of the European racing establishment with cars they had
designed and built themselves, which was absolutely true.