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Bruce McLaren (1937–1970)

Bruce McLaren was born in Auckland, where his father owned a garage. At the age of 10 he was diagnosed with a degenerative disease of the hip joint. Two years in a home for crippled children followed, which only strengthened his characteristic determination to overcome adversity.

Getting started

McLaren got his driver’s licence aged 15, and began competing in motor races. Early success won him a Driver-to-Europe scholarship in 1958, enabling him to race in Europe.


In 1959, he became the first New Zealander to achieve an F1 Grand Prix victory. Aged just 22, he was the world’s youngest F1 Grand Prix winner at that time. Driving for Cooper, he came second and third in the World Drivers’ Championships in 1960 and 1962 respectively.

Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd

In 1963, he formed Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd. Outside F1, the team dominated the Can-Am (Canadian-American Challenge Cup) series between 1967 and 1972.

The name lives on

McLaren was also a trained engineer, and in the late 1960s he was both a designer and Managing Director at McLaren. He died in 1970, aged 32, testing a new Can-Am car. Team McLaren remains one of the most successful in F1, with its cars and drivers having won 20 world championship titles.

‘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.’
Bruce McLaren, 1964

Race footage

In the exhibition you will be able to see excerpts of the following race footage:
Bruce McLaren winning the 1959 US Grand Prix, Sebring, 12 December 1959.

Also in this section

Bruce McLaren with his wife Patty after winning the New Zealand Grand Prix, Pukekohe, 11 January 1964
Bruce McLaren with his wife Patty after winning the New Zealand Grand Prix, Pukekohe, 11 January 1964.
Photograph by Marshall McDonagh. Reproduced courtesy of The Bruce McLaren Trust.