America and Britain. Cooper did make a
line of sports-racers, but again McLaren
had something of his own in mind.
While racing in America back in 1962,
he’d been beaten by Roger Penske’s
infamous, rules-bending Zerex Special.
This was a light, slender, center-seat
“sports car” built out of an old F1 Cooper.
In October ’ 62 Penske romped to wins at
Riverside and Laguna Seca.
McLaren and other competitors cried
foul. Penske was forced to legalize his
“cheater” by making the cockpit wider to
accept two seats. If that slowed it down, it
wasn’t by much. Roger drove it to another
win in 1963, but eventually moved on.
The old Zerex sat abandoned until the
next year, when McLaren’s Americans
Teddy Mayer (brother of Tim) and Tyler
Alexander bought it for the boss.
The idea was a “whoosh-bonk” (one of
future, but Mosport’s was a major pro
event, with names in the field like Jim
Clark (Lotus-Ford), AJ Foyt (Scarab-
Chevy), Dan Gurney (Lotus-Ford), Augie
Pabst (Shelby Cooper-Ford “King Cobra”)
and Roger Penske (Chaparral-Chevy).
Bruce McLaren’s little hot rod came
home ahead of them all.
Once you’ve begun well, just keep going.
McLaren moved his growing team out of its
original squalid shed into a proper workshop,
where it designed and built another new
sports-racer. This, at last, would bear his
name, the McLaren Mark I (aka M1A).
Painted in New Zealand’s silver-on-black
racing colors, it debuted in September that
same year, 1964, back at Mosport.
No, Bruce didn’t win again, but he was
in the lead when a broken throttle linkage
forced him to pit. Then he bellowed back
out and set the lap record. By November he
was in business with outside carmaker Elva
to produce two dozen M1As for sale.
DRIVERS DENNY HULME, PETER REVSON
WINS 8 (REVSON 5; HULME 3)
CH’SHIP POSITIONS REVSON 1ST; HULME 2ND
• An evolution of 1970’s M8D “Batmobile,” M8F’s fin-mounted
rear wing was augmented by full-length body fences to help
channel high-pressure air over the top of the car to the wing.
• The 494.9cu.in. ( 8.1-liter), McLaren-built Chevy V8 was fitted
with two-length inlet trumpets, which smoothed the power
characteristics of an engine said to make 740hp at 6,400rpm.
(ABOVE LEFT) The
McLaren crew with
1968’s M8A. (LEFT)
The “Bruce and Denny
Show” in relaxed mode
at St. Jovite in ’ 69.
(ABOVE) Hulme and
M8D at Mosport in ’ 70 -
first race without Bruce.
Bruce’s favorite jocular phrases, meaning
“quick and easy”) first step in joining
American sports car racing’s movement
toward big-inch power. After further altering
the much-modified Cooper chassis, they
replaced its 2.7-liter Coventry Climax with
an aluminum-block, 3.9-liter Oldsmobile V8.
Arguably, this was the first McLaren
sports-racer, progenitor of the great
dynasty of Can-Am cars to come. To keep
peace with his employers, though, Bruce
listed it as a “Cooper-Oldsmobile” when
he entered a 200-mile race on June 6,
1964, at Canada’s Mosport Park. The
Can-Am series was still two years in the
“Can-Am brought previously
independent North American
pro races together into a big-paying championship, and
everybody wanted to win it”