testing, testing…everything about their
approach to the Can-Am was open for
others to copy. It’s hardly McLaren’s fault
that nobody else pulled it off, year after year.
Alas, Bruce’s perfect season was his
last. Just 12 days before the opening
Can-Am of 1970, he died testing his
newest car at Goodwood.
Racers keep racing. Despite having
suffered serious burns to his hands at Indy,
Hulme kept the team focused, and McLaren
friend (and customer) Dan Gurney temporarily
took over the other M8D to win the first
two races. Hulme went on to a second title.
But were things the same? It seemed so in
1971, when Hulme’s superb new American
partner Peter Revson earned a fifth
consecutive team championship driving an
M8F. Even at the time, however, unease
was creeping in. Rumors from Germany
suggested that, at long last, McLaren’s
methods had been adopted by a major
automaker with much deeper resources.
Porsche’s turbo supercar, developed
and driven by Roger Penske’s Mark
Donohue, blew into the Can-Am in 1972
with some 200hp more than the strongest
normally-aspirated Chevy. But the 917/10
was complex, and minor teething troubles
handed two races to Denny Hulme in his
510cu.in. M20. In a third race, troubles
struck both top teams, letting a privateer
through to win aboard a year-old McLaren.
Otherwise, Porsche’s score came to six
wins from nine races, and Penske’s driver
George Follmer won the championship.
(MAIN) Originally designed to take a turbocharged
engine, 1972’s M20 was a lighter, more nimble car than
its M8F predecessor. But the normally-aspirated,
8.1-liter Chevy V8 it raced with was no match for 900hp
of Porsche turbo power. (TOP) A privately-built turbo
engine appeared in an M20 in 1973. It was powerful, yet
savagely unrefined – as Mario Andretti found out...
“Rumors from Germany
suggested that McLaren’s
methods had been adapted
by a major automaker with
much deeper resources”