Gurney, Hill work to form American team

Gurney, Hill hope to help start American Formula One team. INDIANAPOLIS, Saturday, Sept. 28, 2002 -- American road-racing legends Dan Gurney and Phil Hill revealed plans Sept. 28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to launch an all-American...

Gurney, Hill hope to help start American Formula One team.

INDIANAPOLIS, Saturday, Sept. 28, 2002 -- American road-racing legends Dan Gurney and Phil Hill revealed plans Sept. 28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to launch an all-American Formula One team for the 2003 season.

"I think by the middle of October, we'll know," Gurney said as the pair sat in a suite during SAP United States Grand Prix practice. "It would be American ownership and it would be more than one person. I'd like it to be a U.S. Formula One team with U.S. drivers.

"The time is perfect for this to happen. It's going to require certain dominos to start falling pretty quickly, but it would be a monumental situation. One of the keys right now is engines. We have a commitment -- not a contract -- from Ford Cosworth, and we could have a signed contract in a couple weeks' time. If we have our way, we'll see you here next September (with a team).

"It could be enormous. The reality is it would need to be done properly and be properly funded. It could definitely happen. We're awfully close to it. As a racing fan myself, I know fans will be extremely stoked about it. It's an opportunity that comes, and you try to make the best of it."

He was asked if he had spoken about the project to F1 czar Bernie Ecclestone.

"Yes," Gurney said. "He said anything he could do to help, let him know."

The project, Gurney said, started 2 ½ years ago, and he's been at work with it for the past nine months. Hill said he would be involved and had not been into an ownership situation since retiring as a driver.

"It (ownership opportunities) never really got off the ground before," said Hill, the 1961 Formula One World Champion.

"Bob Balachowski and Russ Olsen have a very good business plan that will stand up to scrutiny to run a good business, and they've done a lot of the planning and leg work," Gurney said. "We will end up with major American sponsorship that wants to get global racing exposure and business. We'll end up with many vintage car enthusiasts involved."

Gurney's son, Alex, and Hill's son, Derek, both have Formula One aspirations as drivers.

"They've both made wonderful strides and completed steps to do super groundwork to get to Formula One," Hill said. "They're at very similar stages."

In addition to the '61 title, Hill won three of 48 Formula One starts and scored points 20 times from 1958-64.

"I first came here in 1950 and remember that Richie Ginther's family lived here," Hill said of Indianapolis, adding that he didn't ever attempt the Indianapolis 500 "because I was always tied up in May."

Gurney's best run at an F1 championship also came in '61, when he finished third. He posted four F1 wins in 86 starts and scored points 31 times from 1959-70. He also started nine Indianapolis 500s with a best finish of second in 1968 to Bobby Unser and also second in1969 to Mario Andretti. His Eagle chassis dominated the Indy-style circuit in the early '70s.

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Series Formula 1
Drivers Phil Hill , Dan Gurney , Bobby Unser