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Remembering Bruce McLaren

June 1, 2010

Ferrari made much of their 800th Formula One grand prix in Turkey last Sunday, throwing a party in Istanbul and racing with the number 800 on their cars’ engine covers.

It was just a shame their performance on the track was nothing to shout about.

Over at McLaren, a more poignant milestone was being marked more discretely — one fittingly capped by Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button finishing one-two in the race while the sport’s only Antipodean driver, Mark Webber, joined them on the podium.

Wednesday, June 2, will be the 40th anniversary of team founder Bruce McLaren’s death in a testing accident at the Goodwood circuit in southern England.

The New Zealander, whose team would ultimately go on to become one of the sport’s most successful, was only 32 years old.

Throughout the weekend, inside the team hospitality, a rolling series of images from yesteryear were projected on television screens as a backdrop to the team’s regular
activities.

McLaren’s own words, written as an epitaph to team mate Timmy Mayer, were picked out against a black background:

“To do something well is so worthwhile that to die trying to do it better cannot be foolhardy.

“It would be a waste of life to do nothing with one’s ability, for I feel that life is measured in achievement, not in years alone.”

Although he had won only four grands prix, and just one with his own car at the time of his death, his legacy is as much a part of the sport as that of Enzo Ferrari. McLaren have now won 167 races and 20 championships (12 drivers, eight constructors).

There are still a couple of people employed at McLaren who worked with the Aucklander in the 1960s, even if none on the race team.

“He’s the founder of the team and it’s his name that we have above us and I’m pretty proud of his achievements and what he was able to do,” Hamilton told Reuters.

“I’m just extremely proud to be a part of it and to see his name live on.”

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh echoed Hamilton’s sentiments.

“The 40th anniversary of Bruce McLaren’s death gives us the opportunity to reflect on his legacy, and to appreciate just how much of his original vision lives on within our team,” he said.

First placed McLaren Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton (2nd R) of Britain, second placed team mate Jenson Button and third placed Red Bull Formula One driver Mark Webber of Australia (R) celebrate after the Turkish F1 Grand Prix at the Istanbul Park circuit in Istanbul May 30, 2010. On the left is McLaren Formula One Engineering Director Paddy Lowe. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

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