The Talented New Zealander who pioneered the name McLaren

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 November, 2011, 12:00am


McLaren's new road car rightly touts its heritage as part of a tradition of high performance road and racing cars. The name McLaren comes from company founder, Bruce McLaren, a talented New Zealand racing driver and brilliant engineer. McLaren was the youngest ever winner of a Formula One Grand Prix when he won the US Grand Prix in 1959 at the age of 22. Having started building sports cars in the early 1960s, McLaren became a Formula One entrant in 1966. Plans to produce high-performance road cars were cut short when McLaren was killed testing one of his own racing cars in 1970. But the company continued as a Grand Prix team and won world championships in 1974 and 1976 with Emerson Fittipaldi and the flamboyant Briton, James Hunt. In the late 1970s, McLaren went into decline and merged with another racing team, Project Four, run by former Grand Prix mechanic Ron Dennis. Since then, all McLaren racing cars have had the designation 'MP4' reflecting the merger. Dennis presided over a period when McLaren dominated Grand Prix racing in the 1980s, with the first world title of the Dennis era won by Niki Lauda in 1984. The late 1980s saw the forging of one of the fiercest rivalries ever seen in sport when Alain Prost and the great Ayrton Senna were McLaren teammates. The partnership, documented in the film Senna, yielded four world titles, a tally which was augmented by Mika Hakkinen's brace at the end of the 1990s and Lewis Hamilton's success in 2008.