Goodwood Festival of Speed 2013. McLarens Galore

McLaren celebrated its 50th anniversary at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. By bringing pretty much every car ever along. Also, could we see a McLaren race series in the Middle East?

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It’s 50 years since a New Zealand chap called Bruce McLaren decided to set up its own racing team. In the following half century, the firm he created has become one of motorsport’s biggest names, with Formula 1 world championships, Indy 500 wins and Can-Am titles to its name.

To celebrate, the McLaren of today turned out at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in force, and brought lots and lots of its heritage car collection with it. Visitors walking around the paddock or watching cars race up the hill will have seen no fewer than 14 racing McLarens batting past, from Bruce’s first grand prix car, the Cosworth-powered M7A from 1968, to the latest MP4-12C GT3. Between them were five decades of history, including Emerson Fittipaldi’s championship-winning M23 from 1973, and two mighty F1 GTR sports cars.

Over on the main McLaren stand, the public had a chance to get up close and personal with more race cars, including the F1 LM promised to Lewis Hamilton if he managed to win three F1 world titles (at least until he moved to Mercedes), and the Chevrolet-powered M8D Can-Am car – identical to the car in which Bruce lost his life testing on the Goodwood circuit in 1970.

And then there are the road cars, the newest addition to McLaren‘s heritage. The stand serves as a way of reminding, or informing the public, that Mclaren isn’t just about racing, it’s about really rather serious sports cars. That’s the opinion of Ian Gorsuch, the boss of McLaren Middle East, who we chatted with next to the mighty new P1 hypercar.

“The public are standing centimetres away from millions of pounds-worth of racing car, a Formula 1 car, the Can-Am car and then of course P1 on the stage,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity for people to really get to know what McLaren’s about.

“There’s a gradual understanding now that McLaren make road cars, but it’s taking time. If you speak to most people and say McLaren they’ll think of Formula 1, but through events like this, with us being able to open the discussion with the public, we will increase the power of our brand. We’ve also got the GT Sprint and the P1 going up the hill, so we’re here in force.”

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