Saturday, July 7, 2018

"Former Can Am & IMSA Driver" John Gunn Dies - July 7, 2010

July 25, 1939 - July 7, 2010
Johnnie Oliver Gunn, Jr
Born in Yanceyville, North Carolina, USA.
John graduated from Bartlett Yancey High School and was interested in motor sports from the start. This may have come partly as a result of his father being the Ford dealer in Yanceyville. Johnnie had a very distinctive Ford coupe and was the local daredevil.

Gunn grew up near Virginia International Raceway and was a spectator at the inaugural event in August, 1957. His racing career began while a student at the University of Miami in an Alfa Romeo that carried him to two SCCA divisional championships. He turned pro in 1968 by entering the SCCA Formula A Continental series and became a regular for the entire life of the championship. After his second season he returned to VIR at the conclusion of the 1969 pro races to enter the September SCCA Nationals. In his Lola T-142 he set the final overall lap record for the original course at 2:06.3. He later was a regular entrant there in Can Am and IMSA events.

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.

John Gunn raced a variety of cars including a Lola T-140, Eagle F-5000, Surtees TS-5, Lola T-300, Lola T-260, March 73A, Lola T-332, Lola T-333, and his own Phoenix Camel GT/Can Am II creation. He often race as he said "a low buck" privateer, financing his racing operations with his own racing equipment company, Gunn's Goodies. Many fans remember John Gunn for his tenacious battles against the teams that had far deeper pockets.
Among his memorable moments was leading the first center seat Can-Am race at Mount Tremblant in 1977, but a spin in the waning laps caused him to finish second. Or the time he smoked everyone for the F5000 pole at Lime Rock in 1972, in his Lola T300.

Having battled heart problems, John Gunn passed away in his sleep July 7, 2010, at his home in Palm City, Florida.

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  1. He was a true 'budget racer' and fun to be around. Bought my first real tire guage from Gunn's Goodies 35 years ago

  2. I crewed for John at Charlotte Motor speedway in his Lola. I met him when he came out to the airport to buy 100 octane aviation fuel to race with. I filled up hisctanks and he invited me to help crew. Great guy!

  3. John, John Paul, Jr and I raced his Phoenix in the 1989 Miami Grand Prix. John was a class act and gave me ny first seat in a GTP car. Great Guy!