struggled against modern, mid-engined
machines, but the event must have further
widened his eyes about opportunities here.
Called the Pacific Grand Prix, it was a
round of USAC’s professional Road Racing
Championship, carrying prestige and prize
money. Plus, it enjoyed the support of a big
San Francisco newspaper. All that drew an
entry featuring Stirling Moss, who would
win with a Lotus, along with the likes of
series champ Carroll Shelby, Jim Hall,
Roger Penske, Indy 500 winner Rodger
Ward, even world champion Brabham,
McLaren’s F1 partner at Cooper.
From then on, whenever he had a
weekend to spare, it seemed that Bruce
was in North America racing cars of
various kinds for various people. When
did he start thinking about racing for
himself? Certainly by the summer of ’ 63.
After Brabham had taken two world
titles in a row with Cooper, he left to start
his own operation, so McLaren moved up
to lead driver. He’d scored three GP wins
by now, but Cooper’s fire seemed to be
going out. John Cooper, formerly an
enterprising leader, had been knocked
low by a serious highway accident, leaving
his notoriously short-tempered, tightfisted
father Charles in charge.
McLaren, looking ahead to the early
1964 Tasman series in Australia and
New Zealand, wanted Cooper to take best
advantage of the series regulations by
constructing a pair of new cars slimmer
and lighter than regular F1s. His
employers balked at the expense, but
agreed to let Bruce use their facilities while
he built his Tasman Specials on his own.
So he decided to take on the whole
program by himself. In the fall of ’ 63, he and
a few mates formed Bruce McLaren Motor
Racing Ltd. to run their Tasman assault.
McLaren’s Tasman Coopers incorporated
much of his own design thinking, were tidy,
graceful and fast, and Bruce did win the
Tasman championship — although the
triumph was darkened by the fatal crash
of his teammate, American Tim Mayer.
Racers keep racing. While he continued
his F1 duties for Cooper, McLaren steered
his own satellite organization into
professional sports car racing in both
Drivers BrUCe MClaren, Denn Y HUlMe
Wins 11 (MClaren 6; HUlMe 5)
CH’sHip positions MClaren 1st; HUlMe 2nD
• A refinement of the monocoque chassis, big-block engine M8A
of 1968, but with the notable addition of a rear wing mounted,
Chaparral-style, directly on to the rear uprights – this type of wing
was banned in F1 for ’ 69, but given a season’s grace in Can-Am.
• The 429.9cu.in (7-liter), McLaren-built Big-Block Chevy V8 was
said to give 635hp at 7,000rpm, but was nearer 690 at redline.
a glimpse of perfection... the
M8B won all 11 Can-am races
in 1969, taking Bruce Mclaren
to his second title, ahead of
teammate Denny Hulme.