US racer, team owner, designer and all-round renaissance man Dan Gurney introduced a simple, effective tweak that increases the downforce of performance cars.
Now known as the “Gurney flap”, it is simply a small lip bolted onto the trailing edge of a rear wing, boosting downforce dramatically, with only a small penalty in the form of increased drag. The flaps are present in aviation as well, aiding the creation of lift.
Though he tried, Gurney could not patent the flap. A Jazz Age inventor named Edward Zaparka was awarded a patent for the same device 10 days before Gurney’s birth in 1931.
However, Zaparka’s invention was somehow overlooked by the world until Gurney re-invented it 40 years later as a means of making his team’s Indy car go faster, which is why the flap carries his name today. (Photo: Dan Carney)