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1976 U.S. GP West, James Hunt McLaren M23

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#1 GTE4289

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Posted 01 April 2014 - 18:53

I grew up in Long Beach, CA and the surrounding area. One day, around the time of the 1976 U.S. GP West, my father came home with an open trailer hitched to his dually Ford pickup. On the trailer sat an orangish-red and white McLaren Formula One car in full Marlboro/James Hunt livery. The car stayed with us for a day or so, and then he delivered it to wherever it was supposed to go. A few days later, it was back at our home for another day or so, and then gone again forever. Being not quite six years-old at the time, I really had no idea what was going on, only that my father had been charged with transporting this race car. Somewhere buried among our family photographs, there is one of me sitting in the car.


As an adult with a passion for all things automotive, and a particular interest in older cars, I'm curious to figure out exactly what car this was and why my father was hauling it around on an open trailer. Unfortunately, my parents are both gone and so I have no one to ask. My guess (based mostly on memory because I cannot find that old photograph) is that it was an M23. The actual car driven by Hunt in '76 would not have been hauled around on an open trailer by a local mechanic/amateur race car builder, so I assume that it was only being used for display purposes.


Does anyone here have an idea of what this could have been? Would one of you happen to have a photograph of a McLaren car on display at the 1976 U.S. GP West? How about 1977? (I'm considering the possibility that my memory of the exact year could be wrong.) Any thoughts or ideas are much appreciated. Thanks!




#2 Marc Sproule

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Posted 02 April 2014 - 03:05

there are pics of the car from that weekend in my f1 and long beach sets....





#3 RonPohl

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Posted 21 April 2014 - 22:57

I seem to recall seeing a McLaren F 1 car on display at Cal State Fullerton around that time. Could have been a display car we are talking about? Cheers!

#4 GTE4289

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Posted 21 April 2014 - 23:23

Thanks, everyone. My dad was a mechanic by trade, but at the time he was engineering hydraulic systems for a company that built turf equipment. I recently got in contact with the son of the man who was my dad's employer at the time and here's what he had to say:


Yup I remember. My dad was one of the charter members on the Committee of 300. Before the Grand Prix came to Long Beach, Chris Pook put together a group of 300 members who each donated a big chunk of seed money to kick off the Grand Prix and prove to major sponsors that Long Beach had the money and ability to pull off a race in town.

They were also the volunteers for a lot of race events. Dad was the secretary and had a bunch of crazy duties. One year he took a whole day off work and drove Miss Long Beach and her court in a big stretch limo all over Southern California doing publicity for the race. I'm sure he didn't mind too much. I remember them coming over to our house to take a break, and here I was all googly-eyed over four hot babes in bikinis in my house.

My dad loved racing and volunteered for all kinds of pre-race and race week events. Somehow, they needed someone to haul around that mock-up of Hunt's car for various publicity events around town. Dad volunteered and had your dad drive it around for a few days around race time.

I remember it being parked in front of our house for awhile one day, and I think I have pictures of me inside also.


So it was definitely a display car, and most likely the car spotted by Ron at Cal State Fullerton.
Thanks again!

Edited by Wayne Ausbrooks, 21 April 2014 - 23:28.