Touring McLaren’s High-Tech Woking Hide-Out
“Hidden away among woods and heathland on the edge of [Woking] is the headquarters of the Formula 1 team McLaren. Seen from the air, the McLaren Technology Centre resembles a yin-yang, one side the futuristic steel and glass building, the other an artificial lake (whose water helps cool the whole facility),” Tom Robbins writes for the Financial Times. “Starting [in July], McLaren will offer regular public tours for the first time.” Robbins joins a tour preview, beginning with “the one non-McLaren in the building, a tiny 1929 Austin 7 bought in pieces at the start of the 1950s by New Zealander Les McLaren.”
“He was intending to rebuild the car and sell it for a profit but his son Bruce convinced him to keep it and use it for racing,” Robbins writes. “Together they tuned it to raise the top speed to 140km/h and Bruce learned to drive in it, on a makeshift circuit marked out in the family’s orchard. When Les was unable to take part in a race due to gallstones, his 15-year-old son took his place, and won.
“Bruce went on to become a professional driver and engineer, came to Europe aged 20 and founded the company in 1963.”
Original article by Tom Robbins, Financial Times, June 17, 2023.