McLaren: 50 glorious years

FANS of formerly orange F1 cars will have a special date in their diaries for later this year – September 2 to be accurate.

That’s the day McLaren – the team founded by the legendary Bruce in 1963 – celebrates its 50th anniversary.

Goodwood, June 2, 1970, was a sad day for motorsport when the New Zealander – affectionately dubbed the ‘whoosh, bonk’ man by colleagues – died tested a Cam Am McLaren. But his team lived on – and my, how they lived on.

From a Formula 1 debut at the 1966 Monaco Grand Prix, they have gone on to become a global household name, winning more races (182) than any other constructor, starting from pole position 155 times and scorin 151 fastest laps.

In 2012, McLaren achieved the fastest-ever time for a Formula 1 pitstop (2.31s at Hockenheim), recorded their 58th consecutive points-scoring finish, an all-time record, and have now led more than 10,000 racing laps.

Look at the list of former champions who took the world crown in a McLaren car – Emerson Fittipaldi ignited the passion of his native Brazil, James Hunt created as many headlines on the front pages as on the back, Niki Lauda and Alain Prost turned sport to science, the memory of Ayrton Senna will live on for ever, while Mika Hakkinen and Lewis Hamilton will always be remembered for their raw speed and fearless aggression.

In the heyday of the mighty CanAm series, McLaren steamrollered the opposition, lifting five successive championship trophies (1967-1971) and winning an incredible 43 races in their iconic, thundering V8-engined sportscars. There was success at Indianapolis too.

Today, every single car in Formula 1, the Indycar Series and NASCAR relies upon McLaren Electronics’ standardised ECUs to control their engines and feed data back to the garage.

It’s all a long way from that small south London lock-up back in 1963.

Fittingly, this year, McLaren Automotive will open its 50th global dealership ahead of the worldwide launch of the P1™ – their newest model and a machine that’s set to rewrite the definition of the modern supercar.

Ron Dennis CBE, executive chairman, McLaren Group and McLaren Automotive, said: “McLaren’s history is long and storied, but McLaren’s legacy is harder to define – and that’s because it’s still being vividly written every day by the dedicated men and women who work at the McLaren Technology Centre.

“Bruce McLaren wrote the beginning of the story, and the legend is going to continue for many years to come. I’m only a chapter, not the book, and I want other people to come in and write their own chapters as time goes by. This is a book that’s still being written, and that, perhaps, is the greatest legacy of McLaren.”

As Bruce himself put it all those years ago: ‘Life is measured in achievement, not in years alone.’

If he’s looking down, he’ll be a proud man….


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