AAR Eagle Santa Ana Indianapolis

The Santa Ana, the second Indianapolis car created by British designer Tony Southgate for Don Gurney’s All American Racers (AAR), was named after AAR’s hometown. Based upon the original Eagle design, it featured a wheelbase extended by 3½ inches, with an all-new chassis and extended offset bodywork, making it the lowest and widest AAR racer to date. USAC rule changes required the use of wider wheels, now 10 inches in front and 14 inches in the rear, while other new features included ventilated disc brakes, an improved roll bar design, and Gurney’s brilliant helical-toothed steering box, which provided more rack-and-pinion travel.

Only four of these cars were built in 1969, with the car offered here being delivered to legendary racing team owner and master of racing engine trickery “Smokey” Yunick. It was equipped with a 159-cubic inch DOHC turbocharged Ford V-8, producing upwards of 800 brake horsepower! Numbered as the #44 “City of Daytona Beach” car, it qualified 11th for that year’s Indianapolis 500.

During the race, Leonard moved up through the field to 2nd and was chasing the leader, Mario Andretti, when an errant hose clamp punctured a hole into his radiator. Living up to his slogan, “The Best Damn Garage in Town,” Yunick had his car and driver back on the track within 14 minutes, and Leonard would finish the heated race 6th overall. Nonetheless, Smokey was disgusted that the aforementioned hose clamp had cost him the race and took the Eagle Santa Ana back to his shop. There, after only one race, it was partially dismantled and then left to sit for the next 30 years.

It wasn’t until just before his death in 2001 that Yunick agreed to sell #44. The Eagle was then fully restored by a team that included famed Indianapolis car builders A.J. Watson and Willie Davis, among others. It was acquired by the current owner in 2007, who then ran the car at the famed Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2008. Dutifully maintained since, it was even sold to another collection for several years and subsequently bought back. As with any race car, standard preparation is recommended, but it otherwise awaits further historic racing duty.

While the racing career of the “City of Daytona Beach” may have been brief, it was certainly successful, and this car had the great fortune to be preserved in one of racing’s great hordes for many years and then restored by the very best in the business. Its new owner is bound to be welcomed with the car virtually anywhere that it can be shown or raced.

Source: RM Sotheby's Press
Photo Credit: Gabor Mayer

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