An early champion
Spotted by Jack Brabham at the end of the 1950s, Bruce McLaren was one of the first beneficiaries of the “Driver to Europe” program designed to offer a promising “Kiwi” driver from the antipodes experience on the reference circuits of the Old Continent with the best in the world. McLaren joined the works F1 team Cooper alongside Jack Brabham in 1959 and won the 1959 United States Grand Prix aged 22 years and 104 days, a precocious record that would not be broken until 2003 by Fernando Alonso at the Hungarian Grand Prix. He followed that up with a victory at the Argentine Grand Prix, the first race of the 1960 season, and finished runners-up that season behind Brabham.
Inspired by Brabham
McLaren won the 1962 Monaco Grand Prix, eventually finishing a fine third in the championship that year. The following year, he founded Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd, which was initially intended to enter cars in Formula Tasmane, a kind of Oceania championship for F1/F2 type single-seaters, as well as in the North American championship. CanAm. Moreover, McLaren won the Formula Tasmane championship in 1964 with his team. However, it was not until 1966 that McLaren Racing made its debut in Formula 1, the New Zealander having decided to follow in the footsteps of his mentor Jack Brabham by building his own cars, including the M2B, the first McLaren F1 in history. which made its debut at the Monaco Grand Prix. M2, because the M1A, the very first McLaren racing car, was a 1964 CanAm. Even before F1, it was in the CanAm championship first that the team enjoyed success with 5 consecutive championships won between 1967 and 1971 on the M6 and M8 prototypes, Bruce McLaren himself having been double champion in 1967 and 1969.
A founder gone too soon, but a team that has become legendary
Despite the founder’s tragic death in 1970 at the wheel of an M8D CanAm during testing, the McLaren team had its first period of success in Formula 1 in the mid-1970s with Emerson Fittipaldi (1974 world champion) and James Hunt (champion World Cup in 1976 after a famous duel against Niki Lauda), before becoming one of the heavyweights of F1 in the 80s, under the impetus of Ron Dennis. It was the heyday of the world titles of Lauda and Prost between 1984 and 1986 with the TAG Porsche V6, then of course the legendary Prost-Senna duel in 1988 and 1989 with the Honda engine. This same Ron Dennis who took the plunge in 1989 with the creation of McLaren Automotive, the car manufacturer division whose first creation, the 1992 McLaren F1, designed by Gordon Murray, made an impression on the world of supercars.