Multi-talented McLaren Transformed Racing

In his all-too-brief life, New Zealander Bruce McLaren, who died in 1970 at the age of 32, managed an impressive list of successes, writes Jason Stein for Wheelbase Media. “His European driving career began while he was barely into his 20s and his first win came at age 22 at the 1959 United States Grand Prix. Seven years later the talented McLaren had formed his own team and was driving in a chassis built by his company, Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd. The 1968 Belgian Grand Prix would mark the site of McLaren’s one and only victory piloting his own car. Between running his race teams, designing both Grand Prix and Indianapolis customer cars and competing in both the Canadian-American Challenge Cup series (Can-Am) and Formula One, McLaren also found time to help develop the Ford Motor Company’s assault on one of the world’s most prestigious motor racing events: the annual 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race held in France. In fact it was McLaren who, along with driving legend Chris Amon, piloted a GT40 to victory in 1966, which was Ford’s first at this fabled circuit. In North America, Bruce McLaren’s name and reputation might have been almost unknown were it not for Can-Am, a short-lived racing series (1966-‘74) that produced some of the wildest and most exhilarating competition ever seen. The simple experience of being a spectator was nothing short of incredible. As a young man, I was fortunate enough to have attended a 1970 race held at Mosport Park near Toronto, and recall positioning myself on a hill overlooking Turn Three, waiting for the event to begin. The slow-moving train of about 20 mid-engined cars made a deafening sound during the warm-up lap, but when the race began, the ground literally trembled as the shock waves from the car’s monster motors penetrated the earth’s crust.”

Tags: 1959 United States Grand Prix  1968 Belgian Grand Prix  Bruce McLaren  Canadian-American Challenge Cup series (Can-Am)  Dan Gurney  Formula One  

  • David Munroe - 1:52 am on March 23rd, 2015
    Sorry to rain on the parade, BUT, Dan Gurney did not win at Le Mans 24 Hours in 1966. Driving a Ford GT40, liveried in the black and silver colours of New Zealand and sporting a silver fern just in front of the drivers door, Bruce McLaren and Chris Among, both from New Zealand, drove an excellent race, to win the race for both New Zealand and the US. They were also driving the only Ford team car which was on Firestones, all the others were on Goodyear. At some time in the race a Goodyear technician ordered the Firestone's to be removed, causing hours of arguments in the backrooms as those filthy lawyers worked to justify their high fees. Dan Gurney did not finish in '66, but did win in '67, with Bruce in 4th. Incidentally the car Bruce drove, a Ford GT MkIV in yellow, was the same car he drove to victory at the Sebring 12 hours.
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