Racing back in the Sixties and Seventies was very different from today and so were the racers. A couple of years ago, pro racer Charles Espenlaub, was chastised by The Man for accepting a beer from fans after his car broke at Mosport. Back in the day, accepting a cold beer from a fan’s cooler was a given while waiting for the tow vehicle at the end of the race.
With series like the Can Am and Formula 5000, many consider it the golden age of racing. Certainly the drivers were more akin to gladiators than modern pro drivers. Monstrous horsepower, sometimes rudimentary aero and rather primitive safety equipment meant that these guys were tough as nails and beyond brave. Perhaps the toughest of all were the independents, guys who didn’t have the resources of Penske and the like. John Gunn was one of those guys.
Gunn raced primarily in the Can Am and Formula 5000 series, but also spent time endurance racing in Alfa Romeo’s and Ferrari’s. In the Seventies, he raced the mighty Porsche 934/935 before switching to closed cockpit Phoenix cars in IMSA racing. Gunn remained involved with these cars until 1989. His best ever finish was 2nd at the 1977 Can Am at Mont Tremblant. Many fans remember John Gunn for his tenacious battles against the teams that had far deeper pockets.
Having battled heart problems of late, John Gunn passed away in his sleep. Thanks for the memories!