1967 Bud Moore Trans-Am Cougar Dan Gurney Special
1967 Bud Moore Trans-Am Cougar Dan Gurney Special
There were four Mercury Cougars prepared and campaigned by Bud Moore Engineering (BME) of Spartanburg, South Carolina and raced in the 1967 Trans American Sedan Championship competition held by the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). The first BME Cougar was the #98 car that was the Lincoln-Mercury prototype featured in several auto magazines of the time. The #98 car had a unique role bar installed by Dearborn Steel Tubing on contract to Fran Hernandez, racing boss of the various Mercury factory teams, of which BME was the main Trans-Am team. During the racing season, two cars were usually entered in races, although at Sebring, the second race on the schedule, three BME Cougars were on the starting grid.
Of the four Bud Moore Cougars that year, the #16 car was for Dan Gurney, captain of Team Cougar, with the #15 car for Parnelli Jones, the third for Ed Leslie, the three drivers initially composing Team Cougar. The 4th Cougar was held as backup in case a car was wrecked. BME received the cars during October, 1966, prepared the cars and tested them at the Virginia International Raceway (VIR) during December '66. All of the cars, according to Bud Moore, were equivalent.
The first Trans-Am event of the season was held at the Daytona tri-oval and infield road course during Speedweek of February, 1967. The #15 (Jones) and #16 (Gurney) cars were on the pole with identical times. BME competed in all twelve events of the series. #15, the most active Cougar, competed in all 12 Trans-Am races, but #16 competed in only the first 2 events, after which it was moved to reserve as the back-up vehicle and was replaced with the #98 Cougar. The #98 Cougar was entered in the second event at Sebring, Florida held during March, '67, with Ed Leslie driving and ran the remainder of the season as a main team car driven by several drivers. The #98 Cougar appeared in the February, 1967 issue of Motor Trend magazine, along with a photo feature "Cougar Goes Racing" showing the dual 4-bbl Group II 289 cid engine as an option for Cougar that did not actually go into production. The Cougars were a Lincoln-Mercury Home Office Special Order project assigned to Fran Hernandez.
Race prep changed race-to-race, with this replica car built to late season preparation and powered by a period correct 289 cid engine similar to 1967 as-raced preparation; 8-inch rear end and small, non-finned rear drums. In the third race, Green Valley, Texas of 16 April,. Gurney and Jones won the race 1-2 giving Cougar the Trans-Am point lead. Later photos show variations in how the cars were prepared. Parnelli Jones won the night time Paul Revere 250 at Daytona (4 July) that was likely swapped for the back-up car after his severe bashing of his #15 Cougar at Green Valley (16 April).
All of the BME Team Cougars were painted in Cardinal Red with Sheffield Silver top and trim. Bold graphics including large lettering on each rear flank displaying Mercury Cougar, the Team Cougar logo on each c-pillar, and an assembly of decals that varied from race to race.
The Trans-Am series was closely contested between BME and Carroll Shelby's Mustangs with lead driver Jerry Titus. Cougar led the points race into the last race, Kent, Washington. The final point tally for the season was a second championship for Mustang, Cougar missing by 2 points due to bad luck for both Gurney and Jones late in the race.
What is known of the fate of the three remaining BME cars is that Lincoln-Mercury chose not to sponsor a Trans-Am team during 1968, and NASCAR introduced its Grand Touring division for 5-liter powered "pony" cars of the time. BME converted the remaining three '67 cars to 1968 NASCAR regulations, replacing 289 engines with 302s, switched disc brakes to drums, added adjustable suspensions, steel wheels versus mags, and moved the fuel filler from between the tail lights to the driver's c-piller among other changes, although still displaying Team Cougar logos. Where the '67 Trans-Am cars were silver, the 1968 scheme changed silver to black. DeWayne "Tiny" Lund was the lead driver in the #16 Cougar (Gurney's 1967 Trans-Am car) and won the 1968 GT Championship with 9 wins in 19 races.
During Daytona's first race of the 1969 season for GT cars, the Citrus 250, the #16 BME Cougar was entered for Japanese road racing champion Seiichi Suzuki who finished 4th in the race. In the following few months, the #15 Cougar was sold to Reid Shaw of North Carolina and was raced successfully by Wayne Andrews during the following NASCAR GT seasons until the series expired during the early 1970s. The #16 car was the last to be sold, Spring of 1969, due to BME switching to Mustang for the Trans-Am, Parnelli Jones qualifying 2nd on the grid of the Citrus 250 with the Suzuki driven Cougar also on the starting grid. The Cougars then went downward into sportsman racing.
Of the original four 1967 BME Trans Am Cougars, only the roll bar of one has been found, installed in a 1969 road racing Mustang, then traced by its SCCA number back to the BME Cougars. Subsequently, the roll bar went into another Cougar as a look-alike reproduction of the #98 car.
Conclusion: None of the four 1967 BME Trans-Am Cougars have survived. Those that are shown today are re-creations that recall the great era of highly popular Trans-Am racing in which the new Cougars were sensational racing cars, nearly Champions that year, with cars of spectacular styling and up-scale interior appointments unusual in the "pony cars" of the time.
Period filming of Team Cougar is available, YouTube "Cougar Capers parts 1, 2, and 3."
This replica of the #16 BME Dan Gurney Cougar was built for vintage racing and was on track during two Walter Mitty Challenge events at Road Atlanta. Currently it is fitted with a new HiPo cluttch, pressure plate, and release bearing, first generation Super T-10 4-speed trans wih Hurst shifter, 3.8:1 final drive posi-track with over-riders, 289 +,030 engine, 9.6:1 CR, with dual Holley 390 cfm 4-bbl carbs, full comp suspension with full roll cage, rather than just a roll bar as raced back then, 20-gallon fuel tank, and pristine preparation.
Keyword Search Terms:1967 Trans-Am
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