Can-Am footage shows McLaren's racing soul

Motorsport.tv’s “Racing Files” episode on McLaren is a tribute to not only the marque’s founder but also top-rank motorsport design at its most unfettered.

Motorsport.tv subscribers can watch the full episode here and it's well worth checking out because it’s about one of the greatest race teams in history.

Bruce McLaren was a very fine Formula 1 driver and an excellent Can-Am racer, at a time when a contender who possessed a broad range of engineering smarts and great feedback could take his car to the next level of competitiveness.

McLaren was also a fantastic team owner with a strong work ethic who inspired all those around him, and he learned much while racing for John Cooper’s squad and observing the efforts made by Jack Brabham, who set up his own team in 1962, a year before McLaren followed suit.

This video initially traces McLaren’s early Formula 1 ventures, and also shows why the Can-Am series’ apparently one-sheet-of-paper rule ‘book’ was always going to lure McLaren into demonstrating his company’s expertise. McLaren’s M6 and the incredible M8 series of cars combined mighty power from oversized Chevrolet engines with thoroughly thought through chassis dynamics and aero solutions.

This combo allowed Bruce, fellow Kiwi Denny Hulme, and America’s Peter Revson – Bruce’s long-term replacement following the proprietor’s fatal crash in 1970 – to rack up five straight titles in a scorched earth approach to racing.

Even when up against the even more powerful Penske-run Porsche 917/10Ks, the McLaren M20 – the M8F’s successor – was able to take Hulme to second in the 1972 Can-Am championship. It took the 1100hp 917/30 for Porsche to blitzkrieg the championship in ’73, and by then McLaren was gone as a works team, focusing instead on its booming Formula 1 and IndyCar campaigns.

This video provides insight into the world championship success of Gordon Coppuck’s wonderful M23 in which Emerson Fittipaldi and James Hunt won championships, the Ron Dennis (team principal) and John Barnard (designer) takeover in 1981, the Niki Lauda/Alain Prost era, the Prost/Ayrton Senna era and then the slow build-up of the Mercedes-Benz partnership. That culminated in world title success for Mika Hakkinen in 1998 and ’99, and Lewis Hamilton’s first title in 2008. This video, which was made in 2018, also provides a doleful reminder that the team’s last F1 win came as long ago as 2012…

But for many viewers the most prized footage here will be of the sensational Can-Am cars that for several years reduced the series to the ‘Bruce and Denny Show’, and saw some of the most unrestricted machines in motorsport history thundering around some of the greatest tracks in North America.

Enjoy!

shares
comments
‘Voice of Brands Hatch’ commentator Brian Jones dies

Previous article

‘Voice of Brands Hatch’ commentator Brian Jones dies

Next article

Motorsport Images assists Ferrari with 1000th GP celebration book

Motorsport Images assists Ferrari with 1000th GP celebration book
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1 , General , IMSA
Author David Malsher-Lopez
The real-life racing rogues stranger than fiction Prime

The real-life racing rogues stranger than fiction

The forthcoming Netflix film linking the world of underworld crime and motorsport plays on a theme that isn't exactly new. Over the years, several shady figures have attempted to make it in racing before their dubious dealings caught up with them.

General
Jan 31, 2021
The cherished curios kept by motorsport's professionals at home Prime

The cherished curios kept by motorsport's professionals at home

Keeping trophies and momentos of key triumphs is par for the course for motorsport professionals, but what are the most cherished souvenirs picked up by the drivers and engineers who have seen and done it all?

General
Dec 26, 2020
Why motorsport should consider a mid-week future Prime

Why motorsport should consider a mid-week future

International motorsport has been the preserve of weekends, but the pandemic forced Formula E to get creative with its Berlin season finale as four races were held mid-week. Should FE and other series break with tradition and repeat the experiment?

General
Oct 5, 2020
How pragmatic principles made Ron Tauranac a design legend Prime

How pragmatic principles made Ron Tauranac a design legend

Jack Brabham's 1966 world championship campaign in his eponymous car was also a defining moment in the career of designer Ron Tauranac, who would apply the same ethos to his ultra-successful production racing car business, Ralt.

General
Jul 23, 2020
The ingrained failure motorsport must fix to avoid 'turf wars' Prime

The ingrained failure motorsport must fix to avoid 'turf wars'

OPINION: The FIA has warned that the major motorsport championships must not get engaged in 'turf wars' when it comes to the urgent need to re-organising the 2020 calendars, but there are tedious past problems that must be addressed to satisfy all.

General
May 3, 2020
The tech changes that could seal a Nordschleife record Prime

The tech changes that could seal a Nordschleife record

Volkswagen's I.D. R smashed the Pikes Peak record and now its attention has been turned to Nurburgring Nordschleife. The ultimate benchmark there may appear far out of reach, but technical changes to the car have made a new electric record possible

General
May 3, 2019
The story of motorsport's single biggest safety advance Prime

The story of motorsport's single biggest safety advance

Today, the HANS device is commonplace in motorsport, but it wasn't initially greeted with open arms. This is the story of a major safety breakthrough and the man whose invention has saved countless lives.

General
Feb 10, 2019
Motorsport's greatest imposters Prime

Motorsport's greatest imposters

There are many tightly enforced rules in motorsport – some complex, some simple, but there have been a few extraordinary instances of teams and drivers bending the rules and getting away with it

General
Dec 26, 2018