The Lyon Air Museum, located at the west end of Southern California’s John Wayne Airport, is the realization of a dream of its founder, Major General William Lyon, U.S. Air Force, a former combat pilot and from 1975-1979 chief of the U.S. Air Force Reserve.
His passion for aviation history and youth education is the driving force behind this world-class facility that offers educational tours and displays to inspire the young. The museum features authentic aircraft, rare vehicles and memorabilia capturing the history of WWII aviation and including military automobiles, military motorcycles and operational significant aircraft.
The museum is hosted by knowledgeable docents, one in particular, Dennis Arrobbio, was a great help during our photo session and supplied invaluable information about the tribute vehicles.
From July 1 until September 3, the museum is staging a special exhibiton, “Vintage Motor Racing, with Special Tribute to Dan Gurney.” Featured are“nine breathing examples of race cars that made motor racing history presented alongside historic aircraft.”
Gurney started driving professionally in 1950. He raced for Ferrari, BRM Porsche, Brabham and his own Eagle team in 15 years in Formula One. He won seven F1 events, four of them part of the World Championship schedule, as well as seven Indy car races, 5 NASCAR races, finished second twice in the Indianapolis 500, and won major sports car races at Le Mans, Daytona, Sebring and the Nuburgring.
His victory in the 1967 Grand Prix of Belgium at Spa in the Eagle Gurney-Weslake V12 racer was the only time an American-built car driven by its American designer won an F1 World Championship event.
Two of Gurney’s Eagle Indy cars representing All American Racers are showcased, including the 1968 AAR Indy Gurney Eagle No. 48 that he drove to victory at Mosport Park in Ontario, Canada and later that year the car to the the pole and race victory at the Rex Mays 300 at Riverside International Raceway.
The other Eagle on display is the 1972 AAR Gurney Mystery Eagle, also wearing N0. 48, which housed a turbocharged 159cid Offenhauser inline four-cylinder engine producing 1,000 horsepower. In 1972 the car broke the 200 mph average lap-speed record in the Ontario 500.
Rounding out Gurney’s machines are his personal 1963 Shelby Cobra Tribute, configured like the race car he drove at the 12 Hour race Sebring in 1963, complete with toggle switches on the Cobra’s dashboard that came from a WWII B-25 Mitchell bomber.
The striking exhibit also includes a 1927 Bugatti Type 35B Grand Prix racer capable of 135 mph, a 1957 Porsche 356A Speedster powered by a 140 horsepower four-cylinder engine, a 1961 Porsche Carrera Abarth GTL raced by Gerhard Koch (winner of the German GT driving championship in 1962), a 1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ2 boasting lightweight fiberglass coachwork by Zagato, a 1970 Porsche 914/6 GTU race car housing a carbureted flat-six engine producing 110 hp and featured in the manufacturer’s ad campaign along with 1974 Playmate of the Year, Cindy Wood, and a 1973/1974 Kremer “Samson” 3.0 Porsche Carrera RSR that raced throughout the 1974 European GT season with victories at Imola and the Nurburgring.
These rare and historic automobiles bring are maintained in racing condition, ready to return to the track if needed.
For more information, visit the museum’s website.