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  Article Image gallery (23) Chassis (3) Specifications  
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Country of origin:United States
Produced in:1969
Numbers built:4
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:April 23, 2020
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Click here to download printer friendly versionHonouring the city All American Racers (AAR) was based out of, Dan Gurney named his 1969 Indy racer the Santa Ana. Internally, the car was known as the Mark 7 and it was penned by British designer Tony Southgate. For what was his second Indy car design for AAR, Southgate started with a clean sheet. Gone was the classic cigar shape and instead inspiration was taken from the wedge-shaped Lotus Type 56 raced at Indy in 1968.

The Eagle Mark 7 was built around a triangular aluminium monocoque. Suspension was by double wishbones on both ends. It featured a distinct square nose, that still included a subtle beak shape. The radiator intake was on the underside of the nose. The hot air was then routed out through the front suspension to keep it away from the cockpit. It was also slightly shorter than its predecessor and thanks to the shape of the monocoque had a lower centre of gravity. The Mark 7 could be fitted with either a stock-block V8, which was Gurney's personal engine of choice, or a turbocharged version of Ford's twin-cam V8.

Three Mark 7 Eagles were entered for the Indy 500. Gurney himself raced the stock-block engined example. The second AAR entry was for Denny Hulme, which featured the mighty twin-cam, turbocharged Ford V8 that was very powerful but equally thirsty and also suffered from considerable turbo lag. The sole customer entry was sold to legendary entrant/mechanic Henry 'Smokey' Yunick. His car also had the Ford V8 engine and was painted a striking gold. Joe Leonard was tasked to drive Yunick's Mark 7.

Unfortunately, there had been no time to test the Mark 7 before Indy, so the AAR team had to spend the month of May ironing out the bugs. There were some bugs indeed as the front end created considerable lift, which made the cars a handful to drive. Nevertheless, Gurney, Hulme and Leonard were all in contention to win the race. Hulme was out first with a clutch failure and then Leonard was black flagged due to a punctured radiator. Gurney did manage to soldier on, eventually finishing second after starting tenth on the grid.

Following the difficult time at Indy, several modifications were made including a much stiffer front roll bar and more conventional hot-air extruders on the top of the nose. This turned the car into a winner with Gurney scoring a pair of victories and also qualifying on pole five times in 1969. The Mark 7 served into the 1970 season when Gurney won at Sears Point, which would be the final Indy car victory of his career.

Ahead of the Indy 500, the Mark 7 was replaced the '70 Eagle', which was designed once again by Len Terry. This was after Southgate had left following AAR's decision to pull out of Formula 1.

Unfortunately, the Mark 7 did not come good until late in the 1969 season but then it proved it could have been a real contender to give Gurney his elusive Indy 500 victory.

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  Article Image gallery (23) Chassis (3) Specifications