SOUTH AFRICA'S INNOVATIVE FORMULA ONE DESIGNER HONOURED
Durban-born Gordon Murray, whose groundbreaking racing car designs won Formula One world championships and the Le Mans 24 Hour classic, is to be honoured by his alma mater, the Durban Institute of Technology, on Monday, 25 November 2002.
The Institute will award an Honorary Professorship in its Faculty of Engineering, Science and the Built Environment to Murray, who will present his Inaugural Lecture at 18 00 that evening.
Involved in sports and race car design and engineering since his student days, Murray left South Africa for the United Kingdom to pursue his career after graduating from the DIT in 1971, and subsequently designed the Brabham and McLaren-Honda cars in which Nelson Piquet, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost won a total of four FIA Formula One World Championships.
His 1983 Brabham BT52-BMW delivered the sport's first turbocharged world championship, whilst the McLaren-Honda MP4/4 won 15 of 1988's 16 grands prix - a 'strike rate' of 93,75%, which remains unsurpassed despite Ferrari's recent run of successes.
Modern-era pit stops were introduced under his team directorship at Brabham, as were carbon fibre brakes, and Murray engineered Niki Lauda's Brabham BT46 'Fancar' which used massive 'cooling' vanes to literally suck the vehicle to the ground. It won first time out, but was banned despite being declared legal.
The innovative and free-spirited engineer also designed McLaren's F1 road car/sports racer which dominated the 1995-7 FIA GT Championships, as well as various long-distance classics. The standard-setting F1 is still the sports car benchmark, and Britain's authoritative CAR magazine recently described Murray as 'Supercar King'.
He is presently Technical Director of McLaren Cars Ltd - the road vehicle division of the TAG McLaren Group - where he is responsible for the forthcoming Mercedes-Benz SLR, a front-engined 'supercar' venture between the German manufacturer and McLaren.