Bruce McLaren – How One Man’s Mission Changed Motorsport.
A wise man once said:
"To do something so well is so worthwhile that to die trying to do it better cannot be foolhardy. It would be a waste of life to do nothing with one's ability, for I feel that life is measured in achievement, not in years alone" - Bruce McLaren.
Bruce McLaren spoke those immortal words which became a fitting tribute for someone who contributed so much to the world of motorsport.
His story started at the age of 13 when he helped his father restore an Austin Ulster - before modifying it into a racing car. Two years later, Bruce was behind the wheel and set the fastest time at the 750cc Muriwal Beech Hill Climb.
With aspirations to race in Europe, it wasn’t long before the young Kiwi came knocking.
When Bruce Met Cooper
Bruce embarked on his F1 career when he signed with the Cooper Car Company F1 team in 1958 - and it was only one year later where he tasted F1 success.
He took the chequered flag at the US Grand Prix at Sebring and became the youngest F1 winner in the process.
Despite achieving great feats with the Cooper F1 Team, Bruce was still harbouring ambitions to create his own team and founded The McLaren Racing Team in 1963.
The Origins of McLaren Racing
McLaren Debuted in 1966 and scored 5 Can-Am Series championships from 1967-71.
Their success at the Can-Am Championships was a far cry from their performances in F1. It was not until 1968, where they took their miaden F1 victory at the Belgium Grand Prix in 1968.
Now that McLaren was finding its rhythm across both series, they would suffer a major setback when Bruce tragically lost his life in 1970, aged 32, when the car he was testing for the upcoming Can-Am season had crashed.
Despite the loss of their leader, McLaren dominated the Can-Am series of that year and scored success across an array of racing disciplines. Here’s a few!
- 182 FIA F1 Race Wins.
- 20 FIA F1 World Championships (9 Constructors', 12 Drivers’).
- Three Indianapolis 500 Wins (1972, 1974 and 1976).
- Le Mans – 1995.
McLaren continues to race under the name of the founder today and are known as McLaren Racing Limited.
Based in Woking, Surrey, they strive to push the boundaries of performance and achieved this by changing the landscape of car design. Here’s a few!
The McLaren F1 was so far ahead of its time that parts from that car are still used in present-day engineering.
"I believe anything is possible. Forget the moon - with an engine this potent, let's aim for Mars." - Peter Robinson's review of the McLaren F1.
The McLaren F1 GTR was a racing variant of the McLaren F1. It won its class at Le Mans in 1995 and raced internationally until 2005!
Known as the successor to the McLaren F1, this hybrid-powered hypercar forms part of the Holy Trinity of Hypercars.
With stats that should be illegal, McLaren put their heart and soul into this car and created a monster. Check it out here: McLaren P1 Review.
Named after one of the most iconic racing drivers of all time, Ayrton Senna, this track-focused hypercar is part of the ultimate series.
With stats that will blow your mind, they created a delicate blend of McLaren’s values and Senna’s racing philosophy to create a car in a league of its own.
You can read about it here: McLaren Senna - the new track-focused Hypercar.
The story of Bruce McLaren is one of motorsport’s finest. Their endeavour to honour their founder has seen them remain at the forefront of design and performance.
Bruce's legacy was celebrated on what would have been his 80th year at the Silverstone Classic Racing festival in 2017. 120 Mclarens took to the circuit to celebrate the founder of McLaren, whose contribution to motorsport will be remembered.
Is Bruce's story the greatest of all-time or is there another? Next in our series is MG.