This is the first bottle of champagne sprayed after winning a race

Illustration for article titled This is the first bottle of champagne sprayed after winning a race

You'd think that the tradition of spraying a bottle of champagne from the winner's podium after a race was as old as sports itself. It's not. It didn't start until 1967 when Dan Gurney did it for the first time after winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This was the bottle he used.

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There’s something very lewd and European about spilling champagne after winning a motor race but it’s actually a Californian invention.

When Dan Gurney and A. J. Foyt won the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans in a Ford GT40 Mark IV, Gurney spontaneously shook his bottle of Moët & Chandon and sprayed it on everyone in his vicinity: Henry Ford II, Carroll Shelby, and whoever else happened to be standing around the podium.

One of the sprayees was Life magazine photographer Flip Schulke, who kept the empty bottle, signed by Gurney after it was all over. He held on to it for decades before returning it to Gurney, who now keeps it in a display case along with the famous photo of the 1967 podium.

The bottle was a pretty good omen. A week after winning Le Mans, Dan Gurney drove his impossibly gorgeous Eagle to victory at the 1967 Belgian Grand Prix.

Photo Credit: OnInnovation

DISCUSSION

porsche9146
Fred Smith

the GT40 won four times at Le Mans, but the 1967 win was the truly all-american one. the MkIVs, which is the model that gurney and foyt won with, were built in collaboration with shelby american on this side of the atlantic, the motor was the 7-liter 427 and the drivers were the ultimate american dream team, 50 percent of the foyt-donohue-gurney-andretti group that would race Le Mans one week, indy the next, trans-am at laguna seca after that and close out the month with a NASCAR race at daytona or riverside.

of course, the car was run by shelby american and carroll shelby himself was the strategist that day, and though the shelby american team had won Le Mans in the GT class twice before, they bettered those finishes with an overall win in 1967.