‘Life is measured in achievement, not in years alone.’
When a 27-year-old Bruce McLaren penned those words in 1964, his new company, Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd, was less than a year old.
In those days, Bruce’s vision was shared by fewer than half a dozen loyal souls, who slogged across the world to race his self-made cars. Nowadays, the McLaren Group employs more than 2000 people, all of whom still share Bruce’s ideals of combining sportsmanship with solid engineering practice and cutting-edge technical expertise.
On September 2nd 2013, the McLaren Group will celebrate its 50th anniversary.
If we were to follow Bruce’s words to the letter, there’d be little time for recollection, but on the eve of McLaren’s half-century there’s surely time for the briefest of breaths and the opportunity to take a look at some of their achievements:
- Their Formula 1 team has become a global household name; since their arrival in the sport, at the 1966 Monaco Grand Prix, they have won more races (182) than any other constructor, started from pole position 155 times and scored 151 fastest laps. In 2012, they achieved the fastest-ever time for a Formula 1 pit stop (2.31s at Hockenheim), recorded their 58th consecutive points-scoring finish, an all-time record, and have now led more than 10,000 racing laps.
- The exploits of their greatest world champions will always bring F1 to life: Emerson Fittipaldi ignited the passion of his native Brazil; James Hunt created as many headlines on the front pages as on the back; Niki Lauda and Alain Prost turned sport to science; the burning intensity of Ayrton Senna will live on for ever, while Mika Hakkinen and Lewis Hamilton will always be remembered for their raw speed and fearless aggression.
- Their legacy in North American sportscar racing is writ equally large: in the heyday of the mighty CanAm series, they steamrolled the opposition, lifting five successive championship trophies (1967-1971) and winning an incredible 43 races in their iconic, thundering V8-engined sportscars.
- They went to the Indy 500 for the first time in 1970, returning with greater strength until they won the USA’s most famous motor race in 1974 with Johnny Rutherford. They repeated the feat with Rutherford in 1976, too.
- Today, every single car in Formula 1, the Indycar Series and NASCAR relies upon McLaren Electronics’ standardised ECUs to control their engines and feed data back to the garage.
- Introduced back in 1993, the McLaren F1 road car has lost none of its unique appeal and is still considered by many to be automotive world’s definitive supercar. To this day, it remains the fastest naturally aspirated production car in the world. In GTR racing guise, it won the 24 Hours of Le Mans (below), also scooping third, fourth and fifth places on its debut in 1995.
- The next road car project was with German manufacturer Mercedes-Benz, and saw the successful build of the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, which became the best-selling carbon-based car ever.
- Since its launch in 2010, McLaren Automotive has developed into a world-class road car manufacturer, successfully developing and building the 12C and the 12C Spider high performance sports cars. Both models exploit our unparalleled understanding of carbon fibre and electronic driver systems to create a groundbreaking product of unequalled weight, strength, performance and driveability.
- In a return to their sportscar roots, the debut of the 12C GT3 was an unqualified success, scoring 19 victories on its competitive debut in 2012. In September, as Vodafone McLaren Mercedes crossed the flag to win in Monza, McLaren’s GT cars also took top spot at races in British, French and Spanish championships – an incredible achievement.
- Fittingly, this year, McLaren Automotive stands poised to open its 50th global dealership ahead of the worldwide launch of the McLaren P1 – their newest hypercar and a machine that’s set to rewrite the definition of the modern supercar.
- Away from the track, McLaren leads the world in the application of Formula 1 technology and expertise to other industries. McLaren Applied Technologies helped British cyclists, rowers, sailors and canoeists win 15 gold medals last summer. They worked alongside Specialized to design Mark Cavendish’s world championship-winning S-Works Venge bicycle. Working with Birmingham Children’s hospital, they have improved the monitoring of sick children in intensive care. McLaren has also designed systems to help the Bay Area Rapid Transit railway in San Francisco to run more efficiently and to reduce the CO2 emissions from plane movements at airports.
It’s all a long way from that small south London lock-up back in 1963. Accordingly, echoes of their past will reverberate throughout a series of unique events and celebrations to be held across our anniversary year.
From the McLaren 50 logos they’ll proudly sport on their team shirts, through their specially commissioned heritage video features, to the launch of the new MP4-28 Formula 1 car with Jenson Button and Sergio Perez on January 31st, every lap, every corner, every mile and every road they’ll take the opportunity to revel in McLaren’s present while recalling their 50-year past.
Ron Dennis CBE, executive chairman, McLaren Group and McLaren Automotive, said: “McLaren’s history is long and storied, but McLaren’s legacy is harder to define – and that’s because it’s still being vividly written every day by the dedicated men and women who work at the McLaren Technology Centre.
“Bruce McLaren wrote the beginning of the story, and the legend is going to continue for many years to come. I’m only a chapter, not the book, and I want other people to come in and write their own chapters as time goes by.
“This is a book that’s still being written, and that, perhaps, is the greatest legacy of McLaren.”