Bruce McLaren’s Legacy, 50 Years On

Say ‘McLaren’ to a more casual F1 fan these days and you’ll get reactions and keywords such as ‘silver, chrome, cold’ and perhaps until recently, ‘diamond earrings’. I’m not the Formula One geek I used to be when younger, my era of passionate interest in the sport was watching Senna’s qualifying laps of Monaco, one hand on the wheel, the other on a H-pattern gearshift. These days, surrounded by my Ferrari loving colleagues, I almost feel persecuted to admit a love for McLaren. But I do.

For me, McLaren isn’t a silver and chrome name. The one I have the oldest memories of is a soft deep yellow. I was only five when Bruce McLaren met his death at Goodwood, I have no memory of it and only began to find out about it a few years later, around about the time I got a Yardley McLaren to put alongside my Corgi JPS Lotus. As I grew up, the words Marlboro became synonymous with McLaren for me, the colour changed to that vivid red and white, firstly with a black crash helmet with Hunt on it, then later with a bright yellow helmet.


Fifty years have past since that day at Goodwood and McLaren have chosen to remind us in what, for me, was a surprising way. This film displays an emotion normally hidden deep below the surface, probably in a compartment in Ron Dennis’ heart that he looks fondly at when he thinks no-one is watching. Shot by Swedish music video maker Marcus Soderlund, it shows a chostly Bruce McLaren retracing the apth of the final moments of the accident, walking past the skid marks, up to the steaming wreck, all the while with a soft monologue. I found it compelling to watch and slightly spooky first time.

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Soderlund comments, “”This is Bruce McLaren’s film. I love that Bruce McLaren is revisiting his crash-site, like an angel from a Frank Capra movie. The script for this film made me shiver and I wanted to recreate that feeling. I wanted to fill the film with emotions. I am obsessed with gestures. These things that reveal who we are and the physical spaces that we inhabit. Films can change the way you look at the world by showing you how another person sees it. This is how I imagine that Bruce McLaren looked at the world.”

This is the first of three films to be released by McLaren, parts two and three will be released on YouTube. McLaren seem to have been slower than many to catch up with their past, it’s just not something that Formula One teams generally do. But with the move into road car manufacturing, this rich archive and history serves to remind everyone that there’s more than just one Formula One team with a passionate history. Some may say that it doesn’t fit with Ron Dennis’s outwardly cool clinical approach to the world. Personally, I think it’s the perfect compliment.

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Author: Neill Watson

If you love the sound of the Cosworth V8 as much as the V12 Merlin, the smell of Jet A1 as much as Castrol R and admire the late Ray Hanna as much as Sir Stirling, you’ll find you’re both on the same page. Neill's love of art deco buildings means that his ideal home would be a brilliant white, 1930′s control tower in Southern France, with crisply mown grass, biplane parked on the driveway and a Ferrari 288GTO in the garage. This is something that those around him tolerate, though it does concern them from time to time.