In 1952, at the age of 14, he raced in his first hill climb event in a car his father had just restored. By the time he was 22, he had won his first Grand Prix. Just a few months after he turned 26, he founded his own racing team and two months before his 33rd birthday, he died when the Can-Am car he was testing crashed into a marshal’s post at over 100MPH. More than any of us today, Bruce McLaren lived and loved the fast life.
2013 marks the 50th anniversary of The McLaren Group, a team of some 2000+ people all following in Bruce McLaren’s footsteps working towards making his vision an everyday reality. To commemorate the occasion and remember their founder, McLaren has released a video by the title of “Courage“, providing enthusiasts the world over with a glimpse of one of the most dedicated men in racing that ever lived.
When most people think fast cars or even Formula 1, one brand tends to come to mind. One Rosso Corsa-colored brand with a prancing horse on its emblem and a fiery sound out of its cars’ exhausts. Only Ferrari is older than McLaren in Formula 1, but McLaren still has a higher hit rate, winning one of every four Grand Prix they’ve ever entered.
Part of that success must be attributed to the great man himself. Bruce McLaren was a relentless engineer, analyst, and driver and when his racing team was still in its absolute infancy, wrote that “life is measured in achievement, not in years alone”. If only he could have lived to see what his vision had achieved today:
McLaren took top honors at the 1974 Indy 500 with Johnny Rutherford at the wheel. Johnny had started from 25th place and would go on to win the Indy 500 again in 1976. Roll the clock forward to 1995 and McLaren F1 GTRs had finished first, third, fourth, and fifth in the legendary 24Hours of LeMans.
In Formula 1 alone, McLaren has won a total of 182 races, 12 drivers’ championships, and eight constructors’ championships. A McLaren car has started from pole position at least 155 times and in 2012, Vodafone McLaren’s pit crew broke the record for the fastest Formula 1 pit stop, changing all four tires on Jenson Button’s car in only 2.31 seconds.
Outside of winning races, McLaren has concentrated on technological improvement, supplying every car in F1, Indycar, and NASCAR with standardized ECUs and data analytics tools. The company has even expanded its work to included endeavors with two wheels, partnering with Specialized to produce the unbelievably lightweight McLaren Venge.
We’ll end this piece with the full quote from a legendary automotive enthusiast and the team that has achieved so much in his name.
“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.” – Bruce McLaren