McLaren 50th Anniversary

I was privileged to be invited to one aspect of McLaren’s 50th year anniversary celebrations last week (September 11-12th). I felt very honoured when Neil Trundle (McLaren heritage) recommended me to Matthew Jeffreys (former McLaren chassis designer) and Richard West (former McLaren Sponsorship Coordinator) earlier this year.  These two gentlemen have worked their socks off for over six months to plan and execute the McLaren Old Boy’s 2013 (MOB) Reunion, which has been in existence for less than five years and had their first meeting together last year at Brooklands. Neil Trundle has very kindly promoted MRO F1 Engineering at several McLaren related events in the last 12 months. I was keen to bring along McLaren-only models which event organiser Matthew appreciated and I managed to relocate and borrow two of my models long since in the hand of new owners. One was the M23 of Jody Scheckter which I converted from the 1974 Mike Hailwood car to the 1973 car with which Jody so famously decimated the grid at Silverstone that year – M23/3 (story in my book, MRO F1 Engineering – the first twenty years). The second one was the 1974 M23/5  which I built for one of Emerson Fittipaldi’s mechanics, Kerry Adams which I have shown at various shows since 2000, also described in the photobook, however eventually it went to France and stayed there in Kerry’s residence. He kindly agreed to re-patriate it earlier this year and I assembled a five car line-up also including my own 1972  M19C, a 1976 James Hunt M23 and Alain Prost’s 1986 MP4/2C. Kerry runs a race preparation workshop and has generously given me unrestricted access to various Grand Prix cars during restoration for over ten years, hence the favour returned (1/12 M23/5). The MOB event was an amazing day of meeting various characters including many of Emerson’s mechanics, Alastair Caldwell, John Watson, Howden Ganley, Steve Nicholls, Leo Wybrott, Jo Ramirez, Gordon Coppuck, Matthew Jeffreys at last (many months of occasional emails in preparation for the event), Richard West, M23/6 on the lawn outside, MP4/4 inside on the stage at the celebratory dinner for 250 people in the evening, an event packed-full of guest surprises on stage and also a live video stream from Dan Gurney and a phone call from Emerson to the assembled group via Matthews mobile phone during the evening – this was relayed to all via Richard’s clip-on microphone, very moving. The whole evening has been brilliantly described in a substantial blog by Richard West, the link being Apparently, there will be more still photos and video from the same source in the coming week or two. There was a strong New Zealand contingent led by Jan McLaren (Bruce McLaren’s sister), also Patti Bruce’s wife and Amanda their daughter – it was a privilege meeting these three ladies and having them sign my copy of The Bruce McLaren Scrapbbook (Harper Sports). Looks like I will have to add this and other experiences and hopefully a completed Honda RA300 to a second edition of my first book – perhaps next year.

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