Bruce McLaren is a renowned name in the world of auto racing. A fantastic driver, F1 Grand Prix winner, top racing designer and manufacturer, Bruce McLaren was both talented and resourceful, leaving a legacy that will no doubt remain for decades to come.
Bruce McLaren was born on 30 August 1937 in Auckland, New Zealand. Unfortunately at the age of 9 years McLaren was hospitalised due to a serious medical condition which resulted in his left leg being several inches shorter than his right leg requiring him to spend two years in traction. When he turned 16 years of age Bruce McLaren’s father purchased a car for him and in 1952 he entered a hill-climb event, coming in second place. He studied engineering during which time he took part in a number of events, and by the age of 20 McLaren was auto racing in open wheelers and Cooper-Climax sports.
Bruce McLaren met with a wonderful opportunity in 1958 when he won a spot to go racing in Europe. His success in Formula 2 led to an offer by Cooper to join the Formula One team. He truly impressed all in his debut year and was made team leader in 1962. Unfortunately, his team’s cars were not quite up to the standard of BRM and Lotus. McLaren founded Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd in 1964 but stuck with Cooper until the end of the 1965 season. McLaren modified a Cooper chassis and raced to victory in the Tasman Series. Later he purchased a Zerex which he improved with an Oldsmobile engine. From then on he began racing in the USA. In 1966 the first McLaren car was designed by Robin Herd. Bruce MacLaren was the winner at the Le Mans 24 hours that year. 1968 saw the arrival of the impressive Cosworth engine, and with this new power McLaren and Denny Hulme stood a chance at gaining F1 victories which they did in Canada, Italy and Belgium. McLaren made his 100th start in 1970 at Monaco. Sadly on 2 June 1970 he lost his life in an accident at Goodwood whilst testing a new McLaren CanAm. McLaren’s name lives on today with his company and team still very active in the sport. He certainly did much to develop technology in motorsports and his legacy will not be forgotten.