"When I first heard that there was to be a movie made around Bruce I felt compelled to contribute in any way possible. Here is a man to whom I owe so much, and if his kindness, tenacity, passion, humor and all round good bloke that he was, can be portrayed on film it should be great example to all on how to live life well."
In 1962 Bruce was competing in the Tasman series and was about to head to Australia for the final races. Before he did so he hired a young Kiwi who he had seen working on the series and whose work ethic impressed him. Thus Walter Willmott, aged 21, joined Bruce on the Cooper Formula One Team.
Such was the speed of Walter's rise from the obscurity of Timaru, where he did his apprenticeship, that the first F1 race Walter ever saw was the 1962 Monaco Grand Prix; a race Bruce and Walter won for Coopers.
In 1963 when Bruce formed the McLaren Racing Team, Walter became its first mechanic, followed soon after by Tyler Alexander.
Photograph courtesy of Walter Willmott Collection
Together they would build the Tasman Coopers that marked the start of
Bruce's team and then the first official McLaren car the M1A.
Walter, or Wally as he is known, would stay with the team until 1968, helping build and maintain the cars that literally took on the world.
Today he lives in Invercargill New Zealand where he acts as a technical consultant to owners of McLaren race cars around the world. He also races an immaculate Brabham BT21 in Historic Races. When the opportunity presents itself, he gets behind the wheel of McLaren race cars, including the Denny Hulme McLaren M23 Formula One car, for demonstration runs at special events.