Saturday, October 9, 2010

Bruce McLaren

Bruce Leslie McLaren (30 August 1937 – 2 June 1970), born in Auckland, New Zealand, was a race-car designer, driver, engineer and inventor.
His name lives on in the McLaren team which has been one of the most successful in Formula One championship history, with McLaren cars and drivers winning a total of 20 world championships. McLaren cars totally dominated CanAm sports car racing with 56 wins, a considerable number of them with him behind the wheel, between 1967 and 1972 (and five constructors’ championships), and have won three Indianapolis 500 races, as well as 24 Hours of Le Mans and 12 Hours of Sebring.

Early life

As a nine year old, McLaren contracted Perthes disease in his hip which left his left leg shorter than the right. He spent two years in traction, but later often had a slight limp.
Les and Ruth McLaren, his parents, owned a service station and workshop in Upland Road, Remuera, Auckland. Bruce spent all of his free hours hanging around the workshop.

[edit] Career

Les McLaren restored an aging Austin 7 Ulster which 14-year-old Bruce used in 1952 when he entered his first competition, a hillclimb. Two years later he took part in his first real race and showed promise. He moved up from the Austin to a Ford 10 special and an Austin-Healey, then an F2 Cooper-Climax sports. He immediately began to modify and improve it—and master it—so much so that he was runner-up in the 1957–8 New Zealand championship series.

[edit] Grand Prix

His performance in the New Zealand Grand Prix in 1958 was noted by great Australian driver Jack Brabham (who would later invite McLaren to drive for him). Because of his obvious potential the New Zealand International Grand Prix organisation selected him for its ‘Driver in Europe’ scheme designed to give a promising Kiwi driver year-round experience with the best in the world. McLaren was the first recipient, to be followed by others later including Denny Hulme.
McLaren went to Cooper and stayed seven years. He raced in F2 and was entered in the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring in which F2 and F1 cars competed together. He astounded the motor racing fraternity by being first F2, and fifth overall, in a field of the best drivers in the world.
McLaren joined the Cooper factory F1 team alongside Jack Brabham in 1959 and won the 1959 United States Grand Prix at age 22 years 80 days, becoming the youngest ever GP winner up to that time. He followed that with a win in the Argentina Grand Prix, the first race of the 1960 Formula One season, and he would finish runner-up that season to Brabham. (Forty three years later, another Kiwi racer, Scott Dixon, would become the youngest ever winner in any major open-wheel racing formula anywhere in the world when he won the CART Nazareth (Pennsylvania, USA) 225 when 20 years, 9 months and 14 days old.)
McLaren won the Monaco Grand Prix in 1962, eventually finishing a fine third in the championship that year. The next year he founded Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd, which remains in the Formula One championship simply as Team McLaren. McLaren continued to race and win in Coopers (including the New Zealand GP in 1964).
McLaren left Cooper at the end of 1965, and announced his own GP racing team, with co-driver and fellow Kiwi Chris Amon. Amon left in 1967 to drive for Ferrari. In 1968, McLaren was joined by another fellow Kiwi Denny Hulme, who had become world champion in 1967 with Brabham. McLaren took his fourth career win racing his own McLaren car at Spa in 1968, achieving the team's first Grand Prix win. Hulme won twice in the McLaren-Ford. The 1969 championship was also a success, with McLaren finishing 3rd in the standings despite taking no wins. In tribute to his homeland, McLaren's cars featured the "speedy Kiwi" logo.

[edit] Can-Am Series

It was in powerful sports car racing where McLaren's design flair and ingenuity were graphically demonstrated. Just as the Can-Am began to become very popular with fans in Canada and the U.S., the new McLaren cars finished second twice, and third twice, in six races.
In 1967 they won five of six races and in 1968, four of six. The following year McLarens proved unbeatable, winning 11 of 11 races. In two races, they finished 1-2-3. (McLaren, Hulme and Mark Donohue).
In 1966 he and co-driver Chris Amon won the prestigious 24 Hour race at Le Mans in a Ford GT40.

[edit] Death

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. He had been testing his new M8D when the rear body work 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."

[edit] Legacy

  • Bruce McLaren Intermediate School in West Auckland was named after him shortly after his death. It was originally going to be called Henderson South Intermediate.
  • In 2000 Motorsport NZ and the Prodrive Trust created The Bruce McLaren Scholarship to help up and coming New Zealand racing drivers.
  • Inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1990.
  • Inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1991.
  • Inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1995.
  • The Bruce McLaren Trust, based in Auckland, New Zealand, perpetuates his memory and runs a small museum from the flat where Bruce grew up (above a petrol station in Remuera)
  • On January 20, 2007, at New Zealand's round of the A1 Grand Prix series, it was announced that there is to be a movie made about Bruce McLaren.[2]
  • The University of Auckland Formula SAE team, use Bruce's racing number 47 as their car number in memory of Bruce.

Bruce Leslie McLaren (Auckland, 30 agosto 1937circuito di Goodwood, 2 giugno 1970) è stato un pilota automobilistico e ingegnere neozelandese di auto da corsa. Il suo nome sopravvive nel McLaren Racing Team, uno dei più importanti del campionato di Formula 1.

Biografia [modifica]

A nove anni, McLaren contrasse una malattia all'anca che lasciò la sua gamba sinistra più corta della destra. Trascorse due anni in trazione, ma in seguito continuò a zoppicare leggermente.
Les e Ruth McLaren, i suoi genitori, erano proprietari di una stazione di servizio e di un'officina a Remuera, Auckland. Bruce spendeva tutto il suo tempo libero a curiosare nell'officina.
Les McLaren restaurò una vecchia Austin 7 Ulster che il giovane Bruce usò nel 1952, a 15 anni, per partecipare alla sua prima gara, una corsa in salita. Due anni dopo prese parte alla sua prima vera gara, dimostrandosi promettente. Passò dalla Austin ad una Ford 10 special e ad una Austin-Healey, quindi alla Cooper-Climax di F2. Iniziò immediatamente a modificarla e migliorarla (e in questo eccelse) al punto che si ritrovò secondo nel campionato neozelandese del 1957-58.

Carriera come pilota [modifica]

La sua prestazione nel Gran Premio di Nuova Zelanda del 1957 venne notata dal grande pilota australiano Jack Brabham, che avrebbe in seguito invitato McLaren a correre per lui. A causa del suo ovvio potenziale, l'organizzazione del Gran Premio Internazionale di Nuova Zelanda lo selezionò per il suo programma Driver in Europe, che mirava a dare ai piloti neozelandesi promettenti la possibilità di passare un intero anno a fare esperienza con i migliori del mondo. McLaren fu il primo vincitore e Chris Amon lo seguì successivamente.
McLaren andò alla Cooper dove restò sette anni. Corse in Formula 2 e venne iscritto al Gran Premio di Germania del Nürburgring, nel quale le auto di F1 e F2 correvano assieme. Stupì il mondo delle competizioni automobilistiche arrivando primo tra le F2 e quinto nella classifica generale, dopo aver gareggiato con i migliori piloti del mondo.
McLaren si unì alla squadra di F1 della Cooper, al fianco di Jack Brabham, nel 1958 e vinse il Gran Premio degli Stati Uniti del 1959, all'età di 22 anni, diventando il più giovane vincitore di GP fino a quell'epoca (43 anni dopo, un altro neozelandese, Scott Dixon, divenne il più giovane vincitore di sempre di una gara su auto a ruote scoperte, quando vinse il Gran Premio di Lehigh Valley della formula Indycar, all'età di 20 anni, 9 mesi e 14 giorni.
McLaren vinse il Gran Premio di Monaco nel 1962. L'anno seguente fondò la Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd ma continuò a correre e vincere con la Cooper (compreso il GP di Nuova Zelanda del 1965).

Il team McLaren [modifica]

McLaren lasciò la Cooper e diede vita alla sua squadra corse, con il copilota Denny Hulme (anch'egli neozelandese, che divenne campione del mondo nel 1967). Vinse il primo GP su una sua auto a Spa nel 1968 mentre Hulme vinse due volte su una McLaren-Ford.
Fu nelle potenti vetture sportive da corsa che il fiuto e l'ingegnosità della progettazione di McLaren vennero dimostrati visivamente. Quando la serie CanAm iniziò ad essere molto popolare tra gli appassionati di Canada e USA, le nuove auto di McLaren finirono due volte seconde, e due volte terze in sei gare.
Nel 1967 vinsero cinque delle sei gare e nel 1968 quattro su sei. L'anno seguente le McLaren si dimostrarono imbattibili vincendo 11 gare su 11. In una gara, finirono occupando le prime tre posizioni (McLaren, Hulme e Dan Gurney).
Fu a bordo di una sua vettura da CanAm che McLaren perse la vita. Stava provando la nuova M8D sul circuito di Goodwood quando uscì di strada e andò a sbattere a forte velocità.
Nel 1991, la McLaren venne introdotta nella International Motorsports Hall Of Fame.

Vittorie [modifica]

  • 1959: GP USA - Cooper T51-Climax
  • 1960: GP Argentina - Cooper T51-Climax
  • 1962: GP Monaco - Cooper T60-Climax
  • 1966: 24 Ore di Le Mans con Chris Amon - Ford GT40 Mk II
  • 1968: GP Belgio - Mc Laren M7A-Cosworth DFV

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