To the casual fan, it may be difficult to see how automotive racing can be a team sport. After all, the drivers are isolated. They’re each locked away in their own metal box and only one person gets to claim the victory. However, that’s not the whole picture.
Look no further than racing legends Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt.
Long before the pair teamed up to claim victory in 1967’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, Gurney and Foyt demonstrated their ability to work together on the racetrack.
At the 1964-1965 Bahamas Speed Weeks, both Gurney and Foyt were set to race in Volkswagens. Once the race began, Gurney had the pleasure of driving the strongest car in the race. Foyt’s car, though, just simply didn’t have it that day. As he recalls “I couldn’t run in the top 20, mine was so slow.”
Rather than bolt ahead and secure the victory, Gurney opted to give Foyt the “Big Push.”
With his car performing so well, Gurney was able to push Foyt’s underperforming car ahead of the competition. As the race wound to a close, Gurney claimed the lead and won.
Foyt, propelled by his fellow Volkswagen driver, would go on to finish second.
Unfortunately, Gurney’s car proved to be too good. A complaint had been filed against him and it was found that his vehicle was “tuned beyond permissible limits,” leading to his disqualification.
As a result, Foyt and his “couldn’t run in the top 20” car were awarded the victory.
Gurney had previously won the Bahamas Speed Week in 1960. Even though his would-be second win in Nassau was stricken from the record, he still managed to decide the outcome of the race.