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A special day for McLaren
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Posted By: James Allen  |  02 Sep 2013   |  12:03 pm GMT  |  69 comments

The McLaren factory in Woking is the scene of a major celebration today with thousands of McLaren employees past and present as well as former drivers attending a special event to celebrate 50 years since the company was founded.

On September 2nd 1963 Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd was incorporated and since then, along with Ferrari and later Williams, the three teams have largely formed the spine of Formula 1.

There have been many highs and many lows, moments of intense human drama and tragedy as well as humour and pathos as with all great sporting stories.

Inevitably the story is of humble beginnings from a small workshop in Colnbrook, to the space age McLaren Technology Centre of today.

The team would no doubt have preferred to be celebrating at a time when they were competing at the front for the world championship. Former team principal Ron Dennis always prided himself on saying that McLaren won at least a quarter of all races in a season, but this season has been one of the worst on record with not even a podium finish from the first 11 races and no prospect of a win.

McLaren has always led the way in commercial relationships in F1 and its roster of sponsors today is extensive: Vodafone, ExxonMobil, Diageo, GlaxoSmithKline, Santander, SAP and the Hilton Group. The relationships with TAG Heuer and Hugo Boss have been in place for over half of McLaren’s life, which is unusual in a high-turnover business like F1.

It is about to enter a new phase with the departure of Vodafone as title sponsor and the return of Honda as engine partner and backer in 2015. Along with the presence in the background of Carlos Slim, this promises a reasonably robust financial future.

But competitiveness is the key. In a typical message, with a knife between the teeth, Dennis said,

“Our 50th anniversary provides an opportunity for every single McLaren employee to realise that he or she is an utterly crucial part of an organisation with a history and a culture that really mean something.

“Call it McLaren’s DNA, if you like. Call it McLaren’s brand continuity, if you prefer. Call it McLaren’s corporate culture, if you will. Call it McLaren’s undiminished hunger to win in everything we do, and you’d probably be getting closest to what I mean, what I think, and what I feel.”

McLaren has branched out into road car production, of course, electronics and also has a growing business in Applied Technologies – taking the technologies designed for racing and automotive use and applying them in other areas, like medical.

A group of early employees, many from New Zealand, were present at the recent Belgian Grand Prix and last weekend’s Goodwood Revival meeting as part of the celebrations.

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69 Comments
  1. Sanky says:

    Legendary team..legendary drivers..my favorite team in F1!!

  2. Steve Ellis says:

    I’d be hungry too if I hadn’t eaten this century.

    1. Bones says:

      Well done sir, comment of the day!

  3. goferet says:

    Impressive stuff from Mclaren on reaching their silver jubilee in what has turned out to be an extraordinary story for a private team as you know which is very tricky in this expensive and turmoil filled sport.

    Yes Mclaren have seen a lot of them come and go and in that time they have experienced both joy and pain but just like Williams, the love for racing runs deep at Woking.

    Once again thanks to Mclaren (Ron Dennis in particular), the sport has witnessed it’s most dramatic human stories that have left the fans talking for ages >>> from Lauda and Prost in the same team, to Prost + Senna, to Montoya + Kimi, to Alonso + Lewis and Jenson + Lewis >>> all given a fair chance to race one another.

    In addition, we had the political grudge match between Ron Dennis and Max Mosely that had the fans LOL everyday.

    It’s true Mclaren lose their ground from time to time but ever since the company split into numerous branches like the road car business in the early 90s, it’s hard to see them getting back to the dominant times of the 1980s because right now the company has it’s fingers in too many pies.

    But hey, that’s another topic for another day because today is a celebration and here’s to wishing the team a happy 50th and more success + trophies in the future.

    P.s.

    Am I right in thinking no driver has ever lost their lives behind the wheel of a Mclaren nor has a marshal been hurt thanks to a Mclaren?

    1. All revved-up says:

      Wonderful comments. I enjoyed reading them.

      1. goferet says:

        @ All revved up

        Merci

    2. Sebee says:

      So you think diversified revenue streams are a bad thing? Considering the costs I think it is wise.

      Max tried to warn the teams and they didn’t listen.
      Under Jean, he has allowed the teams to look over the cliff and feel what no RRA looks like.
      Now maybe finally they will all come to their senses and realize that way forward is with a budget cap, period.

    3. PeteH says:

      50th = Golden Anniversary.

      1. cometeF1 says:

        True. McLaren should go with gold instead of silver next time out. Marc

    4. Alan says:

      Only the main man Bruce mclaren G.R.H.sole

      1. Doug says:

        ….soul…

      2. TBP says:

        No. G.R.H sole is right. Poor Bruce has been pacing up and down all year wondering what has happened this year.

    5. Rubinho's Keyfob says:

      “Am I right in thinking no driver has ever lost their lives behind the wheel of a Mclaren”

      Bruce McLaren?

    6. Adrian J says:

      Silver Jubilee is 25 years, 50 years is Golden Jubilee…

      Who else would like to see a special Gold version of their livery for Monza???

      1. Freeman says:

        That would be something!

      2. Sasidharan says:

        yes, the most beautiful car in the paddock should get a spl look this weekend.

      3. Tim says:

        Who else would like to see a special Gold version of their livery for Monza..

        That would be great :-)

    7. Andrew Carter says:

      What do you think Bruce was driving, I’m also not entirely clued up on all their USAC racing.

  4. Get Well Soon Murray says:

    They haven’t even got a podium placement in the first 11 races this season? They need to start translating some of their past glories into current success (well I’m talking about next years car, obviously!)

  5. Grant H says:

    Do u think former employees Lewis and paddy was invited to the party?

    1. Spyros says:

      Probably. Mr Dennis has been saying some complimentary things about Lewis lately.

      1. Timmay says:

        Lol better late than never

      2. Sasidharan says:

        Lewis could have seen his trophies displayed at MTC.

  6. goferet says:

    Seeing as Red Bull employees get a £10,000 bonus for each championship winning year.

    My suggestion is Mclaren should give everybody a £20,000 bonus as a thank you for services rendered over the years.

    Not only with this maintain employee loyalty during these uncompetitive times but will also rise morale within the factory encouraging the workers to give that lit bit extra of themselves.

    1. Sebee says:

      A bit generous!

      How many employees are we talking about here? 100? 500? Your idea could get expensive.

      1. goferet says:

        @ Sebee

        Yes am talking about the entire work force that’s under the F1 team.

        All of them should get a golden handshake for it’s not everyday that we celebrate golden jubilees.

        So why not.

      2. Sebee says:

        So just because I work at McLaren today, the day clock strikes 50 I get 20k? How fair is that? Sure, for those few who have been there 50…OK. but what does the guy in the road division working there for 5 years have to do with the 50th?

        And what do we know about their annual rewards, if any, which may be in place already?

      3. Matt says:

        Because that’s approximately 10,000,000 pounds?

        10 million which could be better spent on … a championship winning car?

  7. goferet says:

    The team would no doubt have preferred to be celebrating at a time when they were competing at the front for the world championship
    ————————————————–

    I have been looking at some stats and strangely between old boys, Ferrari, Williams and Mclaren, only Ferrari has been able to win either championship at any sort of anniversary >>> Year 2000 which was Ferrari’s 50th anniversary.

    Lotus and Mercedes’ birthday is in 1954 and seeing as 2014 will be an anniversary for both teams, it appears the titles are out of the question.

    1. James Allen says:

      Knew we could rely on you!

      1. goferet says:

        @ James Allen

        Haha cheers mate.

      2. Matt Halliday says:

        Love this guys stats and the platform to air views. Wouldn’t have the same entertaining trip to work each morning without the daily view of JAonF1 : D

        Love McLaren just wish they build strong basis for the car for the second half and start out the blocks next year ! Would love a 5 way battle next year McLaren, Ferrari , Merc Lotus and Bulls this year a bit of a washout as Vettel is too darn consistent and everyone else can’t make their mind out who wants to lead the chase : S

      3. goferet says:

        @ Matt Halliday

        Merci

    2. Richard D says:

      You can’t really count them as anniversaries as they haven’t been in the sport all those years.

  8. KRB says:

    Congrats to McLaren, as you say one of the holy triumvirate of F1 teams.

    Would love to see them bring back that orange! Very distinctive and striking.

    Hard that this comes during a very poor year. Although I guess they’ll have another anniversary in 2016 at Monaco, for 50 years since their first F1 race. With Honda onboard then and perhaps 1-2 new drivers, who knows what that year will be like?

  9. Andrew Carter says:

    Here’s to another 50.

    1. Sebee says:

      Yes, could we please look into the crystal ball and see if F1 is still with us in 50 years, and if so what it looks like.

      SR71, Concorde, Space Shuttle…etc.etc. Seems these amazing machines have become obsolete. What justifies the massive investment needed to keep F1 going. What does the roadmap look like in F1 5 years out, 10 years out – not even 20 or 50.

      I am not saying F1 has no future mind you. I’m just wondering how you see the future of F1. On the drivers front, clearly it’s Vettel and Lewis show shortly, perhaps Nico too…Alonso and Kimi will retire in 2 or 3 years most likely. What about the cars, the teams, spending and costs, what after Bernie? What are the possible paths?

  10. KRB says:

    Shouldn’t they have drawn Lewis in his title-winning car instead?

    1. Sebee says:

      KRB,

      Did you lock up any tickets for RUSH premier on the 8th at the TIFF? I managed to score, can’t wait!

      If you’re going we should have the first JAonF1.CDN meeting at the lobby bar.

      1. KRB says:

        No tickets left for the Sunday showing at the Roy Thomson. Just Monday at Ryerson. :-(

        Should be a great time, enjoy! I saw that Hemsworth is likely to be there, and I’m assuming Howard and Bruhl will be too (both have a couple of movies on at TIFF this year), so they can sub in for me, as ex-officio members. :-D

      2. Sebee says:

        To bad KRB.

        Should I rock my super loud Ferrari Marlboro advert team kit for this event? That shirt got me unchecked access to Sponsored Grandstands and VIP meal tents at two races.

        Like this:
        http://i78.photobucket.com/albums/j120/artc5859/05ferrarimarlboropuma.jpg

        Too much? :-)

    2. Quade says:

      Lewis didn’t leave in the best of terms, so depicting him in twice is quite generous. He is in both the lead car (the 2012 one he last drove) as well as among the champions in the background.

      It shows a healthy respect between McLaren and Lewis, and gives hope that he could be back with the great team one day.

  11. Elie says:

    Happy anniversary Mclaren. Perhaps 2013 will be the humble re- beginning of their competitiveness on the race track,

  12. Rich B says:

    congratulations to them, the sooner they’re back to the front the better. replacing perez with kimi or hulk would help but having carlos on board it won’t happen. no disrespect to perez because hasn’t done too bad, there better options though

  13. Mo Han says:

    Congratulations team McLaren. Always my favorite team ever since I started following F1. Mika will always remain my favorite driver.

    1. Quade says:

      Yes, Mika was my favourite too. Those were the days!

      1. Sebee says:

        Come on, it wasn’t that long ago!

        Wasn’t there a chance of a comeback? BAR or something back in 05 I think?

    2. RobertS says:

      +1. I think the cars from the 98/99 season look the best. And Mika was great

  14. Quade says:

    Happy birthday McLaren!
    A team with such rich seams of history, culture and engineering excellence.

    I hope they can become an engine maker at some point in the near future and sort out their current issues.

    1. W Johnson says:

      Here here…and to another 50 years.

      McLaren are unique in F1 for their uber cool style and demanding attention to detail in everything they do.

  15. Thanks, James, for the reminder article and for the insights you provide. There may be others out here who vividly remember the “good old days” when Bruce and Denny were campaignging in the Can-Am on the leading edge and we were racing our own private entries in the SCCA’s supporting “Club” races on those wonderful weekends as we camped in the paddock with our now vintage machines. One would hope that the name on the front door is remembered and the ethic established by him are not diminished by the evolution of the sport and any particular “corporate culture.”

  16. Dan Taylor says:

    Hi James.

    Whilst I know its unlikely, are any current ex-Mclaren drivers likely to attend todays event? I doubt ALonso would want to celebrate his time there, but Kimi, Heikki, Lewis?

    1. Stephen Taylor says:

      I would guess none of them will.

    2. W Johnson says:

      And I doubt Alonso would get an invite.

  17. Valentino from montreal says:

    I never understood what is the big deal about McLaren ?

    Since 1991 , they have only won 1 constructors title
    ( 1998 ) and only 3 drivers titles ( 1998 , 1999 they were lucky that their biggest threat was out of commission with a broken leg and 2008 was decided at the last corner )

    That’s not impressive enough if one takes into account their budgets, ultra modern facilities, mega sponsors , high caliber engineers , racing history and pedigree ..

    Benetton , later Renault , accomplished a lot more than McLaren with much less resources these past 20 years in F1 …

    No wonder Newey left …

  18. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    I hope tey will be back at the front with PEREZ sooner than later if he can get himself right, unfortunately he got also there in the worst moment of the team.

  19. jmv says:

    Kind words from Dennis about Lewis today.
    I think this points to Lewis joining McLaren-Honda in 2015!

    Think of it:
    -Lewis would like to be associated more than anything else with this legendary combination.

    -Lewis fits the samurai mould like no other driver on the grid (sorry Fernando)

    -and by the time McLaren-Honda gets on the grid Lewis will be in his absolute prime as a driver.

    Time to go back home by 2015!

  20. Dean says:

    Ron Dennis, the sole reason I will never warm to Mclaren. The damage he has done to the sport, [mod], whilst proclaiming to be holier than thou, wil never be forgotten or erased. Jerez 97, Melbourne 98, Spa 98, the whole of 2007 and 2008, especially Hockenheim 2008, and then there is Melbourne 2009.

    No, I cannot say im very happy with this celebration.

    1. Valentino from montreal says:

      Yup SPA 98 was a nightmare for me ..

      Horrible memories which still haunts me to this day ..

      Jerez 97 was also disgusting …

      1. Dean says:

        Yeah, the way he let DC being a lap down, drive two laps in front of Schumacher, just waiting for a chance to screw him up. That was vile. Even more a bad taste in my my mouth over screwing DC at Jerez, and colluding with Williams. Or his explanation that McLaren guys in team clothes taking close up pics of Williams suspension, wasnt spying.

        Nah, McLaren is not my cup of tea.

      2. Sebee says:

        In terms of chaos was it really worse than Brazil 03?

    2. IP says:

      I think people forget how much the events of 88 and 89 influenced McLarens decision making. Up until that point they had been very even handed.

  21. JohnBt says:

    Beautiful piece of the illustration with Hamilton right in front. Lewis will be remembered as the most popular rookie in McLaren’s history and definitely in Formula One. Set back is they are not thriving this year. But they have a very strong history in F1. Senna comes to mind during his WDC years.

  22. KRB says:

    Care to elaborate about the first three instances you mentioned? I don’t much care to rehash those from the 2000′s.

    1. Dean says:

      Dennis told DC to move over for Mika, twice in a row. At Spa he let DC hold up Schumacher in atrocious conditions for 2 laps just to mess with Schumachers head. That worked. Today that would be severly punished.

      You oughta listen to that podcast with DC at motorsport magazine. His girlfriend had some choice words for Dennis, told him that in his face too.

  23. Giorgio says:

    Congrats to Mclaren, the spirit of racing has been always highlited inside team, as well as design/style feature line is always distinguished among others, even in the most ugly regulation’s years.. no matter the car’s competitive or not..
    And thanks to Mclaren (and Kimi jawohl) for presenting for us the most exiting and thrilling race in my memory (in F1 since 2005) – Suzuka 2005.

  24. Zombie says:

    I wonder how things are “behind the mansion walls” of Mclaren ? There were rumors in the press that their road car division is burning cash at an alarming rate, and that a lot of Mclaren shareholders want Ron Dennis out.

    That apart, congrats to Mclaren. It takes a special bunch of people to keep an F1 team consistently near top for over 25 years.

  25. Luke says:

    I’m a Ferrari fan but I have to congratulate McLaren… I can’t see F1 without them!

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