Bruce McLaren

Summary
Born in Auckland his dad owned a service station and workshop in Remuera where he first found his
passion for cars. His dad built restored a car for him to race when he was 14, a hillclimb. Two years
later he took part in a real race and showed a talent for driving. He and his dad continued to working
to improve the cars he drove and he became runner up (2
nd
) in the 1957–8 New Zealand
championship series. He was selected for a NZ young drivers to Europe scheme and quickly proved
himself in F2, he became the youngest ever driver to win a grand prix by the time he was moved to
Mclaren spent a few years at his F1 team cooper with moderate success but decided to create his
own F1 team. McLaren was a competitive driver but in many ways his legacy, the McLaren Racing
Team, is testimony to his abilities as an analyst, engineer and manager. McLaren car were innovative
and reliable with Bruce McLaren at the helm and performed well in both the can-am series and F1.
Bruce McLaren died (aged 32) when his Can-Am car crashed on the Lavant Straight just before
Woodcote corner at Goodwood Circuit in England on 2 June 1970.

McLaren team success
The team won its first Grand Prix at the 1968 Belgian Grand Prix but their greatest initial success was
in Can-Am, where they dominated from 1967 to 1971. After McLaren’s death they have gone on to
be one of the most successful F1 teams with 20 world championships and success in Indy 500 as
well.
McLaren Innovation
Bruce was a competitive driver but in many ways his legacy, the McLaren Racing Team, is testimony
to his abilities as an analyst, engineer and manager that contributed much to the success of the cars
that bore his name. In the early days of the McLaren sports cars Bruce was testing and as he drove
out of the pits he noticed the fuel filler access door was flapping up and down as he drove. The
current aerodynamic thinking was that it should have been pressed more firmly in place as the
speed of the car increased. Instead, it bounced more vigorously as the speed increased. Instantly his
frustration at the sloppy work changed and he had an insight. Stopping in the pits he jumped from
the car, ran to a mechanics tool box, grabbed a pair of shears and started cutting the bodywork away
behind the radiator. Climbing back in the car he immediately began turning lap times faster than
before. Later he explained, “I was first angry that the filler door hadn't been properly closed but then
I began to wonder why it wasn't being pressed down by the airflow. The only answer was that there
had to be a source of higher pressure air under it than over it.”
From that session came the "nostrils" that have been a key McLaren design feature, even in the
McLaren F1 road car, since that day.



Death
He had been testing his new M8D when the rear bodywork came adrift at speed. The loss of
aerodynamic downforce destabilized the car, which spun, left the track and hit a bunker used as a
flag station.
Motorsport author Eoin Young has noted that Bruce McLaren had "virtually penned his own
epitaph" in his 1964 book From the Cockpit. Referring to the death of team mate Timmy Mayer,
McLaren had written:
The news that he had died instantly was a terrible shock to all of us, but who is to say that he had
not seen more, done more and learned more in his few years than many people do in a lifetime? To
do something 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.