Bruce McLaren: a technical driver who founded McLaren

26 Jun

Today is day two of the Formula 1 Formula week of legends (25th June- 1st July) These legends are drivers who have been unsung but have completed achievements that deserve merit. Today’s driver is Bruce McLaren, a talented driver and the founder of McLaren F1.

If you had to think of someone who founded an F1 team you may think of Enzo Ferrari, Frank Williams or in recent times Ross Braun, but there is of course an obvious name many would forget, Bruce McLaren. Despite McLaren’s modern day image of being a British team Bruce was actually born in New Zealand and many of the other drivers for the team were also from New Zealand.

Bruce broke onto the F1 scene with an explosive start, it was at the 1958 German GP where F1 and F2 cars competed against each other. Despite being in a slower F2 car and being up against the worlds best Bruce miraculously managed to finish 5th overall, and despite picking up no championship points (he was not allowed to because he was driving a F2 car) Bruce picked up the attention of major teams, and was quickly signed for Cooper. Bruce competed for Cooper at one GP in 1958, the Moroccan GP where he finish 12th. Bruce had impressed in though, and in 1959 he was re-signed for Cooper. It was an impressive season, Bruce started 7 GPs and managed to finish on the podium twice overall finishing on 16.5 points. Bruce drove for Cooper again in 1960 and managed to finish 2nd overall in the championship finishing on the podium five times.

During the years 1963-1965 McLaren carried on driving for Cooper, he participated in 30 races picking up 40 points and 6 podiums.

1966 was the year which made Bruce a legend of the sport, he founded the team ‘Bruce McLaren Motor Racing’ and despite it only finishing two races and only picking up 3 points he carried on with the team in 1967, finishing fourth in Monaco for another 3 points. 1968 was the year when the team started to become successful, Bruce finished 5th in the drivers championship picking up the teams first victory in Belgium and two more podiums at Canada and Mexico whilst team-mate Denny Hulme finished 3rd in the championship winning the Italian and the Canadian Grand Prixs. 1969 saw McLaren building on the success of the previous year, Bruce finish 3rd in the championship with three podiums whilst Denny Hulme finished sixth having won the Mexican GP, overall the team was fourth in the constructors championship. In 1970 Bruce only raced three times in F1 before his death at the Goodwood circuit testing a Can-am car.

Since Bruce’s death his McLaren team has gone from strength to strength, in 1974 Emerson Fittipaldi won the drivers championship and the constructors championship for the team. Up to Monaco 2012 McLaren have won 176 races, had 149 pole positions, set 149 fastest laps, competed in 709 races, won the driver championship 12 times and the constructors championship on 8 occasions.

Bruce also built cars that: dominated the CanAm  sports car championship, won three Indianapolis 500 races, won the Le Mans 24 hours and the Sebring 12 hours.

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