I came to know Bruce McLaren quite well in the years I covered Grand Prix racing. He was such a fixture in the business that, a bit like Jim Clark, you never thought of him dying in a racing car. He was careful, dependable, a regular nice man and you somehow imagined he never took big risks. In those days, of course, they were all taking bigger risks than they knew. I was on my way to the Range Rover press launch in Cornwall when I heard he had died testing a Can-Am car at Goodwood. That was 40 years ago next month. Now McLaren Automotive says it is 20 years since the team that was setting out to design the McLaren F1 came together. Apparently the decision to build, “the finest sports car the world has ever seen” was taken in 1988 so it must have taken Ron Dennis two years to put the resources behind the F1, launched in 1994 at £540,000. In four years 64 F1s, 5 F1LMs, 3 F1GTs and 28 F1GTRs were made along with six prototypes. An F1 with delivery mileage was sold at auction in October 2008 for £2.53million. I drove an F1 for The Sunday Times in July that year.
What an experience. Two daughters’ careers never looked back after I picked them up from school in the F1. Ruth didn’t like it much. She found the acceleration so fierce she walked home. Amazing to think that Dr Porsche designed a road-going Auto Union in the 1930s with the same seating configuration as the F1 McLaren.