Died, F1 Legend

Bruce McLaren

New Zealand

  • Auckland, New Zealand Place of Birth
  • 30 August 1937 Date of Birth
  • 1958 German Grand Prix F1 Debut
  • McLaren Current/Last Team

Bruce Leslie McLaren was born on 30 August, 1937 and was a renowned New Zealand racing car designer, driver, engineer, and inventor. He founded the McLaren team, which remains one of the most successful in Formula 1 history, having since secured 8 World Constructors’ Championships and 12 World Drivers’ Championships. Outside of F1, McLaren cars were also dominant in CanAm sports car racing, achieving 56 wins—many with McLaren himself driving—between 1967 and 1972, and winning five constructors’ championships. Additionally, McLaren cars have triumphed in three Indianapolis 500 races, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the 12 Hours of Sebring.

BornBruce Leslie McLaren
30 August 1937
Auckland, New Zealand
Died2 June 1970 (aged 32)
Goodwood Circuit, Sussex, England

Bruce McLaren’s journey into racing began with his father, Les McLaren, who restored an Austin 7 Ulster. In 1952, a 14-year-old Bruce used this car to compete in his first event, a hill climb at Muriwai, where he won the 750 cc class. Two years later, he entered his first real race and demonstrated significant promise. Progressing from the Austin to a Ford 10 special and then to an Austin-Healey, Bruce eventually drove a Formula 2 Cooper-Climax. His talent and modifications to the car led him to become the runner-up in the 1957–58 New Zealand championship series.

Bruce’s impressive performance in the 1958 New Zealand Grand Prix caught the attention of Australian driver Jack Brabham, who would later invite him to join his then-team, Cooper. Recognising his potential, the New Zealand International Grand Prix organization selected Bruce for its ‘Driver to Europe’ scheme, aimed at giving a promising Kiwi driver international experience. He was the first recipient, paving the way for others like Denny Hulme. Bruce joined Cooper and stayed for seven years, racing in F2 and making an impact by finishing as the top F2 driver and fifth overall in a combined F2 and F1 race at the Nürburgring.

In 1959, Bruce joined the Cooper factory F1 team alongside Jack Brabham and won the 1959 United States Grand Prix at the age of 22 years and 104 days, becoming the youngest Grand Prix winner at that time. This record stood until Fernando Alonso won at the 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix. Bruce continued to show promise, winning the 1960 Argentine Grand Prix, the first race of the 1960 season, and finishing runner-up in the ’60 championship to Brabham. Two years later Bruce won the 1962 Monaco Grand Prix and ultimately finished third in the 1962 championship. In 1963, he founded Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd, which is known today as McLaren but continued to race and win with Cooper, including a victory in the 1964 New Zealand Grand Prix.

At the end of the 1965 season, Bruce left Cooper to form his own Grand Prix racing team, partnering with fellow Kiwi Chris Amon. By 1968, Bruce achieved his fourth career win at Spa, driving his own McLaren car to the team’s first Grand Prix victory, with fellow Kiwi Denny Hulme securing two additional wins that season. The 1969 championship saw continued success, with Bruce finishing third in the standings despite not winning any races. In homage to his homeland, Bruce’s cars featured the distinctive “speedy Kiwi” logo.

Alongside his Formula 1 ambitions, Bruce McLaren also built and raced sports cars. In 1966, he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a Ford GT40, partnered with Chris Amon. His distinctive, loud, orange Can-Am cars dominated the North American series for years, securing the championship title for five consecutive seasons from 1967 to 1971.

At the start of the 1970 season, Bruce confided to friends that he planned to retire from racing at the end of the year to focus on his business. Tragically, on June 2, 1970, while testing the team’s powerful new Can-Am car just two weeks before the opening race of the series, he lost control when the rear bodywork came loose. The car crashed into a marshal’s post, and Bruce was killed instantly.

Bruce McLaren Formula One World Championship career

F1 Career1958–1970
TeamsCooper, McLaren, Eagle
Entries104 (100 starts)
Career points188.5 (196.5)
Pole positions0
Fastest laps3
First entry1958 German Grand Prix
First win1959 United States Grand Prix
Last win1968 Belgian Grand Prix
Last entry1970 Monaco Grand Prix


Driver Nationality Current/Last Team F1 Debut Status
Australian Brabham 1955 British Grand Prix Died, F1 Legend
American Eagle 1971 Austrian Grand Prix Died, F1 Legend
Austrian Team Lotus 1964 Austrian Grand Prix Died, F1 Legend
New Zealand McLaren 1965 Monaco Grand Prix Died, F1 Legend


Team Nationality Debut Season Status
Cooper British 1950 Historic
Eagle American 1966 Historic
McLaren British 1966 Current