The Eagles Have Landed: Dan Gurney's All American Racers at the Petersen Museum

In 2017, the Petersen Museum had an exhibit of the best of Gurney's cars from AAR. Take a tour.

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Chris Perkins

The Petersen Museum paid tribute to the late Dan Gurney in 2017 with its installation ‘The Eagles Have Landed: Dan Gurney’s All American Racers’ featuring 10 of the cars that bore the AAR mark.

Spanning the first AAR chassis, the priceless Mark 1 that carried Gurney to victory at the 1967 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa, to the last, 1999’s Eagle 997 Indy car, the Los Angeles exhibit celebrated all the automotive milestones that rolled out of AAR’s shop in nearby Santa Ana.

Eagle Indy cars from the 1960s and 1970s, the AAR-tuned ‘McLeagle’ Can-Am car—a McLaren chassis thoroughly reworked by Gurney’s team, the 1970 Plymouth Barracuda Trans-Am car, the tiny Eagle Formula Ford chassis—the least expensive car produced by the firm at just $10,000, Gurney’s favorite creation, 1981’s Eagle 8100 ‘Pepsi Challenge’ IndyCar, and the all-conquering Eagle Mk III IMSA GTP machine.

The centerpiece of the installation was Gurney’s beloved Alligator motorcycle, of which 36 were made—in honor of the number he drove to victory at Spa—in partnership with the Petersen Museum.

I was honored to be asked by the Petersen to speak at the installation last July, and gave guided tours to a few groups of Gurney devotees. With a desire to capture the exhibit on film before its conclusion, I recorded the audio from my final tour and overlaid it on footage I captured later in the day.

It’s far from perfect, but hopefully the narrated video tour of Gurney’s achievements with AAR will add to your appreciation of this American treasure.

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