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Flying with Eagles

Wheeler and AAR’s 1977 “Offset” Eagle, featured a symmetrical suspension with the center of gravity offset within the monocoque. In early testing, Pancho Carter broke A.J. Foyt’s lap record at Ontario and in the first race of the ’77 season, clocked a blistering 222 mph lap at Texas International Raceway.

My first go­od job after col­l­ege was de­­signing suspension bits for Traction-Master Co. Later in 1968, I became a small contractor to Douglas Aircraft. In those days I enjoyed competing in slalom racing, which is how I met Elliott Forbes-Robinson who introduced me to Dan Gurney. After several lengthy interviews, Dan hired me in January 1970 to do trackside vehicle dynamics for both his Trans-Am Barracuda and USAC Indy car teams. I was fortunate to work with Dan throughout his last year of driving, and attended over 50 test outings and races that year. As time permitted, I apprenticed under chief designer Roman Slobodynskyj, who was incredibly kind and patient. They were both fine mentors.

Dan retired and was replaced by Bobby Unser in 1971. I continued to do much of AAR’s trackside chassis work for the next couple of years. I was better at R&D than drafting, so with my friend Bob Liebeck’s tutoring I increasingly specialized in aerodynamics. (Today Bob is known as the father of Boeing’s futuristic BWB, or Blended Wing Body, airplane.)

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