Battle for the Championship with Cooper
McLaren was a racer at heart. He built the racing cars from scratch and then raced them himself. But before he started his own team, the New Zealander drove for Cooper. With this team came his first success. In 1959 he won his first Grand Prix.
The next year he was able to go for the championship with Cooper. McLaren started the year very strong with a victory in Argentina and a second place in Monaco. After he skipped the Indy 500, Jack Brabham stole almost all the victories from McLaren. The next five races were won by Brabham and although he came three times on the podium, it was not enough for the drivers title.
In 1962 he won his last race with Cooper and finished third in the championship behind Graham Hill and Jim Clark. After that, the results with Cooper faded away. There were still a few podiums here and there, but where he could fight for wins in 1962, he had to do it with lucky point finishes in 1965.
Owner and driver
McLaren left Cooper at the end of 1965, to enter Formula 1 with his own team: Bruce McLaren Motor Racing. The first two years didn’t go as McLaren had hoped, there were only six points scored over two years.
In 1968, the third year of Bruce McLaren Racing this changed. McLaren won the Belgian Grand Prix that year with a twelve second lead over Pedro Rodriquez. This made him the last driver to win a Grand Prix with his own car. After the victory came some poor results, but in the American races he came back. In Canada and Mexico, he finished second twice.
The crash and Mclaren’s legacy
McLaren was still driving for his own team when disaster struck. In a crash at the Goodwood Circuit, the New Zealander died. He was there testing his new McLaren M8D.
After the loss of founder Bruce, the team made a new start. The team continued where Bruce McLaren had left it. It was only in 1974 that the McLaren team became the constructors’ champion for the first time. The team would repeat this trick eight more times.