McLaren proved Kiwis can fly

December 30, 2011
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The Bruce McLaren Scrapbook, by Jan McLaren & Richard Becht (HarperCollins, RRP $60):

In the world of motorsport, Bruce McLaren did it all: he was a driver, creator, designer, engineer, constructor and even a team owner.

On top of all that, when he took top honours in the 1959 United States Grand Prix he became the youngest driver to ever win a Formula 1 race, at the tender age of just 22 years and 80 days. He was also the first New Zealand to score a Formula 1 win.

That was an interesting time for Kiwi racers and there are a lot of young motorsport fans out there who probably don’t realise that during the swinging 60s, people like McLaren, Chris Amon and Denny Hulme were flying the New Zealand flag on the Formula 1 circuit.

Of course, the McLaren name is still huge in F1, with Bruce McLaren’s legacy being the successful McLaren team that has signed both Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.

New Zealand has a proud motorsport history and I think we can all agree that as a small country, we tend to punch above our weight.

Maybe it’s something in the water, maybe it’s simply the fact that we just go through life not realising we aren’t meant to reach such lofty achievements, but whatever it is, our racers are determined to prove Kiwis can fly.

This book is quite fittingly described by the publisher as a pictorial anthology, and it spans the rather short but action-packed 32 years of McLaren’s life.

There are some amazing photos, many I hadn’t seen before, along with newspaper clippings and letters from his family archives.

His life was full of dreams and plans and, of course, achievements. This book documents those achievements and gives a glimpse of what else he may have done had he not died in a crash in 1970.

Jillian Allison-Aitken

I come from the other land down under, where men are men, and sheep are nervous. I'm a sub-editor and in the past have been a proof-reader, news editor and web editor. I am also an ex-columnist, and book and software reviewer for the local daily newspaper.I still read. A lot. And surf the web. Also a lot.You'll find a little about both of those pastimes here, and on By George.

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