AAR Revisited

A Story Worth Retelling

This is a repost from a few years back that tells the story of how my Gurney Eagle print came. It also recounts the tour of the AAR facility in Costa Mesa, California that Doug from Garage Graphics and I took with Justin Gurney doing the tour honors. Since then, I’ve illustrated the Eagle several times as well as Dan’s 1967 LeMans winning Fort GT MKIV. Life-sized editions of both pieces of art now hang at AAR. Both the story of how they came to be there as well as the subsequent tour remain very fond memories. The post has been edited for length.

The full-scale original artwork for the 1967 Gurney Eagle

Shortly after I finished the Gurney Eagle illustration, Doug Buchanan from Garage Graphics headed out to Costa Mesa to attend the grand opening of Morris and Welford’s new sho

wroom in Newport Beach. Among the many people in attendance was Pat Persichini, one of the folks from Morris and Welford. Doug and Pat got to talking and, at some point, Doug whipped out his cell phone to show him shots of the recently completed Gurney Eagle print whereupon Pat let on that he knew the Gurneys and would be happy to make an introduction. Wow! Talk about being in the right the place at the right time.

Soon after, an e-mail arrived from Evi Gurney saying that Dan and she were sitting at breakfast looking over the images and were very excited about the possibility of a full-scale display. Amazing. The short of it is, an agreement was reached to produce a full-sized, backlit version of the new artwork and have it installed in AAR’s new headquarters. Needless to say, Doug and I were over the moon.

1967 Gurney Eagle

Sadly, Dan passed away just before we were able to ship the display. Neither Doug nor I expected to hear anything further when, to our surprise we received a note from Justin (Dan’s son and the head guy at AAR) letting us know he’d like to follow through on what his dad had started. Things moved pretty quickly after that. The display was re-printed, pre-assembled to make sure everything was just right, disassembled, packed up, and shipped off to AAR where it now hangs along side my illustration of Dan’s Ford GT MKIV in AAR’s new facility

A short time after the Eagle print arrived and was hung, Justin invited Doug and I to travel to California to see the prints installed. He didn’t have to ask twice! In fact, I think we had our airline tickets before the call was finished.

Incredible. Awesome. Amazing. Pick your superlative and it still won’t be enough to adequately describe the aura surrounding All American Racers. AAR is so packed full of racing history and Dan Gurney’s memorabilia, it would take days, maybe weeks to really go through it properly. Doug Buchanan (Garage Graphics) and I were extremely fortunate to have 4 hours of Justin Gurney’s time for a personal tour and we did our best to absorb as much as we could. Truly special.

1967 Ford GT MKIV – Competition Colors

One thing that really stands out is that, for all of its history and nostalgia, AAR is a throughly modern organization with a deep past that they take great care to honor in everything they do— to the point that the original shop—including the late Phil Remington’s work bench and tools— is still used in the restoration of various cars that Dan raced.

There’s a lesson here in the value of remembering our history as a guide to our future and keeping us firmly anchored in our past as a way to light our road on the way forward.

Available Gurney Eagle artwork. (All are signed, limited edition prints on acid-free, archival paper using naturally pigmented inks. Available framed or unframed.)

Available Ford GT MKIV artwork. (All are signed, limited edition prints on acid-free, archival paper using naturally pigmented inks. Available framed or unframed.)

The AAR Tour In Pictures