BRUCE MCLAREN (1937-1970)
Bruce McLaren began life as a fairly typical child, racing his home made trolley down the local hill, blissfully unaware that he would soon be racing his way into the hearts of fans all around the world. At the age of 32 he would die while testing a Can Am car, but in his short lifetime he would become one of the most loved, respected and revered people in motor racing history.
Born and educated in Auckland, New Zealand, McLaren began racing sports cars while a student at technical college. In 1957, at age 20, he raced in the New Zealand Grand Prix, beginning his meteoric rise to the upper echelons of motor racing and racing car design. Team McLaren, formed in 1964, went on to become the most successful team in world motor sport with victories in the Tasman Series, Formula One, Indianapolis 500, Le Mans and Can Am racing series and championships.
No-one could have predicted that the 10 year-old boy battling Perthes Disease would develop an astonishingly sharp mind, an irrepressibly cheerful personality and leadership qualities that would not only enable him to walk again, but lead him to Europe and the United States in a bid to conquer the motor racing world.
Nor did anyone foresee that the cheeky teenager with the limp would become, at 22, the youngest winner of a Formula One World Championship motor race – the United States Grand Prix – a feat only bettered since by new McLaren Formula One driver and Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso.
This unlikeliest of heroes even attracted the attention of Henry Ford II. In an attempt to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Ford turned to McLaren and compatriot Chris Amon to engineer and drive their difficult Ford GT40 racing cars. The picture of Bruce McLaren, Henry Ford and Chris Amon on the winners’ podium at Le Mans still hangs proudly at Ford Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan.
The tale of Bruce McLaren and his brilliant team is one that covered the globe; from the United States and Canada, where he drove the fastest racing cars on earth, to the French countryside and its gruelling 24 hour race, from the Tasman series down under that attracted the world’s best drivers, to the glamorous social events of Monaco. It is the inspiring story of a short life lived to its absolute fullest.