Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Bruce McLaren

McLaren is tweeting pictures for the 44th anniversary of Bruce McLaren’s death testing the CanAm car at Goodwood. He was an engaging man, generous with his time from the moment I met him in 1964, ironically at Goodwood when I accompanied Jackie Stewart to one of the famous test sessions with Ken Tyrrell in the Cooper BMC. Car no 5 was at the 1968 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa, a practice picture just before La Source hairpin a short walk from the paddock. Race day was dry and the M7A doesn’t have the small spoiler used in the race. Bruce won the grand prix; a little luckily perhaps after Denny Hulme in the other McLaren went out battling for the lead with Jackie Stewart’s Matra-Ford. Stewart had led most of the way but ran out of fuel with a lap to go. Pedro Rodriguez (BRM) challenged
the McLaren on the last lap but it, too, was spluttering through empty tanks and finished second. Spa was a good result for McLaren, which had only just started using Ford-Cosworth DFV engines. On the grid at Silverstone (right) with the McLaren BRM, never very competitive, McLaren in the cockpit with Tyler Alexander. Car No 4 (below) looks like practice day for the BRDC International Trophy race on March 30, 1969. Wings were growing taller as their effect on cornering speeds was becoming apparent and engineers were sure that their downforce had to be exerted directly into the hub carriers on the wheels. The following week collapsing wings on Graham Hill’s and Jochen Rindt’s Lotuses at Montjuich led to accidents, which outlawed wings on stalks like this. McLaren was 6th in the International Trophy, a lap down on Brabham, who won with wings bearing down on both front and rear wheels.

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