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 http://richardwestassociates.com/wp/ 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.
If anything I have made brings pleasure and a degree of wonder, do give God the glory and praise, for it is merely the talent He has given, that I am exercising. Amongst the F1 designs I have incorporated as wall tiles in my workspace, are two with the Bible texts John 3 v 16 and Romans 10 v 9 which help me keep my mind focussed on what really matters. Do give them a read. These models are built as one-off, hopefully unique cars of the 1970's mainly (some late 60's and fewer 90's/later) which are not for sale and are part of a personal collection. I am unable to accept commissions due to lack of time and over indulgent approach. They are museum-display and are not in any sense 'working models'. I have built 1/12 scale F1 models almost exclusively, each being in the order of 12-14" (30-36cm) long. My aim is to increase in a small way the 1/12 scale representation of Grand Prix car entries to the F1 World Championship that are not available commercially as kits to be built. They are to be retained as indefinite loans to museums for others to enjoy, for one's home is never large enough. The models perhaps represent my desire to own the the full-scale car, yet that is not feasible or practical (unless you are Bernie Ecclestone) and each of my models feels like the real thing to me, having often spent so much time with the actual car. The photographs of the original cars were taken by special permission and in respect of the owner of the actual GP car or race 'shop owner are not available for further distribution, nor are my own engineering drawings. The models are built with the idea of 'no effort spared' and to look as realistic as possible. I will go to eccentric and sometimes otherwise unreasonable lengths to replicate every detail of design and engineering in order to satisfy myself that I have something properly accurate. This includes the concept that all bodywork should be removable in the same way as on the full-size car and therefore reveal the engineering within; additionally the underneath of the car is modelled, for there is much to be enjoyed regarding 'how it all works' from seeing what is not normally visible. I have felt that in this way, these models may serve to educate interested folk as to what makes a Grand Prix car 'tick', for such rare access to the real thing, makes this aspect somewhat mysterious. I have shown some of those I consider the better models at shows, but do so relatively infrequently due to the effort and logistics of getting to often far-flung venues, not to mention the accelerated ageing effect on the models themselves, in transporting them. Inspiration comes from the great model makers such as Henri Baigent, Gerald Wingrove, also my friends involved in the same hobby and in particular folk like John Shinton here in the UK and especially Andy Matthews from America who produces 'gems', which are wonderful to study. Hopefully that covers everything; now all it remains is to enjoy! MRO, August 2010