‘ McLaren ‘, a new documentary on the life of eponymous Formula 1 team owner Bruce McLaren, is set to hit cinema screens later this year.
Regularly scheduled programming for the non-Formula 1 fans among you will resume shortly. For now, I want to talk about the new Bruce McLaren film.
From Universal Pictures, and titled simply ‘ McLaren ’, the new documentary takes a look at, without hyperbole, one of the most revered men in motorsport. Seriously, his cars have gone on to win eight Constructors’ Championships, 12 Drivers’ World Championships, 182 Grand Prix victories, and become possibly the most respected on the Grand Prix grid. Unsurprisingly, there are many lining up to tell their stories, including former F1 champions Jackie Stewart, Emerson Fittipaldi and Mario Andretti, as well as McLaren’s daughter Amanda and long-time widow Patty McLaren-Brickett, who sadly passed away early last year.
Admittedly the choice of director seems a bit left-field, given that Roger Donaldson’s most notable works include The Bank Job (Statham), The Recruit (Farrell), and Species (alien boobs). Still, while the film makes use of archive footage and photography like Senna and 1 before it, these scenes are cut together with vignettes starring Dwayne Cameron, a former Power Rangers actor who plays Bruce McLaren testing, what appears to be, the doomed M8D Can-Am at Goodwood.
Born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1937, competition was clearly in Bruce McLaren’s blood from an early age. Despite an early case of Legg-Perthes disease leaving him with a prominent limp, McLaren competed in his first race – a hillclimb in a specially modded Austin 7 – at 16. Throughout he was supported unfailingly by his father, who, after a successful outing at the New Zealand Grand Prix in 1963, would encourage Bruce to give European racing a try in 1958, a funded scholarship in his pocket. Custodianships from Jack Brabham and Charles Cooper not long after arrival would see McLaren compete, and then setup a team in, the Formula 2 feeder series, an almost contagious bout of perfectionism helping him become one of the sport’s most consistent performers. Following a step up to Formula 1 that same year, this would ultimately, and quite incredibly, lead to victory at the United States Grand Prix just one year later in 1959, a then 22-year old Bruce the youngest driver ever to reach F1’s top step.
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The rest as they say is very much history, McLaren remaining loyal to Cooper (who’d given him his first F1 break) until 1966 before founding Bruce McLaren Motor Racing. An interest in overseas racing, plus a healthy dose of versatility, would see the Kiwi capture 24 Hours of Le Mans victory with Chris Amon aboard a Ford GT40 MII in 1966, the first of a quite famous four-year winning streak for the Blue Oval. Can-Am titles would swap between McLaren, Denny Hulme and Peter Revson from 1967 to 1971, the cars bearing the Kiwi’s name also wracking up the first F1 win for a driver/owner at the 1968 Belgian Grand Prix before that fateful day at Goodwood on 2 June 1970. Admittedly that’s a quite butchered telling of Bruce McLaren’s story, and fans might want to check out a considerably better biography by Frank Falkner HERE.
Don’t think though that ‘ McLaren ’ will focus solely on Bruce’s racing career. Multiple script revisions having included ‘extensive research into Bruce’s life as a world-class racing driver, constructor, father, son and husband’, so expect this 90 minute documentary to be a fitting tribute when it’s released later this year.