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Bruce McLaren - 2nd June, 1970


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#1 Mac Lark

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Posted 02 June 2004 - 02:10

I shall pour myself a scotch later today and quietly toast a Kiwi hero who was taken 34 years ago today.

It's lunchtime in NZ as I write. Probably about now, Phil Kerr will either be at, or have been to Bruce McLaren's grave at the Waikumete Cemetery in West Auckland - just to the east of McLaren Park.

Phil goes every year without fail.

1970 was a horrible year for many reasons - Jochen, Piers, but I cannot think of another driver who's death in a racing car was as surprising to the motorsport world as Bruce.

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#2 Gary C

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Posted 02 June 2004 - 02:40

Yes indeed, RIP, Bruce, we miss you.

#3 Cirrus

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Posted 02 June 2004 - 13:47

I can remember coming home from school, and hearing the news. I said to my dad "I can't believe that Bruce McLaren, of all people has been killed" He replied "Yes, if it was someone like Jochen Rindt, it wouldn't have been such a surprise..........."

#4 Doug Nye

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Posted 02 June 2004 - 15:28

Ditto - in every respect as mentioned above....a great man.

DCN

#5 UAtkins

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Posted 02 June 2004 - 16:05

Still missed.

Ursula

#6 Don Capps

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Posted 02 June 2004 - 16:51

Just one of the nicest folks I have ever met. His death still seems so difficult to comprehend at times....

#7 HEROS

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Posted 02 June 2004 - 16:53

34 years already, I remember this month of June 1970 when we also lost Piers Courage.

Here is a link on McLaren:

http://www.bruce-mclaren.com/

:(

#8 Ray Bell

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Posted 03 June 2004 - 00:15

Originally posted by Don Capps
Just one of the nicest folks I have ever met. His death still seems so difficult to comprehend at times....


For those of us who met him, you have said it all.

And he just wanted to do one more lap before lunch so he could think about the problems...

#9 Arturo Pereira

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Posted 03 June 2004 - 02:47

A sad loss of a great man :(

#10 Patrick Fletcher

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Posted 03 June 2004 - 02:59

During the traditional drivers' get-together on the Thursday prior to the NZ races, half-a-dozen or so very young members of a local car club were most suprised when Bruce came over and said "let's sit down and and have a talk about racing and cars!" He sat with us for 30 minutes and gave us an insight into what he would like to do with sports car racing; little did we realise at the time - we were thinking Lotus 23 style - he had something a bit bigger in mind!

Great years and a great sportsman...

#11 Vicuna

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Posted 01 June 2005 - 18:11

Rest in peace Bruce

#12 Ray Bell

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Posted 01 June 2005 - 23:00

A very sad day it was...

I remember that maybe two years earlier Bruce had a testing crash as well. Not as bad, clearly, but there was fire involved, I think it might have been at Brands.

Anyway, he suffered badly from burns to his neck compounded by the melting of his nylon jacket with those burns.

The man overcame some great obstacles to make it where he did. It's a good thing his name is still up there in F1... a shame it's cheapened by the people who own it.

#13 rosemeyer

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Posted 01 June 2005 - 23:20

Thank you Ron Dennis

#14 Mac Lark

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Posted 01 June 2005 - 23:28

I was a schoolboy and while I can remember hearing the news on the radio before going to school, it didn't hit home straight away - I've often wondered why. Afterall, he was a national hero.

I guess it was a combination of death being harder to understand when you're 12 and the fact that so many drivers had been killed - even in the shortish time I had been following the sport.

I mean after 1968, you were prepared for anything. But not Bruce.

Today 15 years ago the radio motoring show I was hosting was dedicated to the memory of Bruce. I had Stirling Moss on line 1 from London, and Phil Kerr on line 2 here in NZ. While they exchange(d) Xmas cards, they hadn't actually spoken for years - and neither knew the other was on line.

So they talked about Bruce while myself, and a nationwide audience, merely eavesdropped. It was quite something. And then I had Bruce's daughter Amanda holding on line 3 - it was a special few moments ... but of course I wish we'd never needed to have done it.

#15 Ray Bell

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Posted 01 June 2005 - 23:30

Did you keep a tape?

#16 Mac Lark

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Posted 01 June 2005 - 23:36

Absolutely Ray - I have never generally been one for keeping tapes of interviews (I already regret this!) but two I have is that one and one I did with Denny about a month before he died. That wasn't a radio interview and is littered with profanities and his very blunt opinion of some high profile motor sport people..

In fact, as I was typing that, I reached into my drawer to make sure it's still there.

And it is...

#17 Mac Lark

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Posted 01 June 2005 - 23:48

Flu induced brain fade - just checked, and it was 2 June 1995 that we had the phone link up, not 15 yrs ago.

#18 ian senior

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Posted 02 June 2005 - 08:03

The death of Bruce shook me absolutely rigid, more so than any other driver before or since. In those days, you could almost expect certain drivers to meet their end in a racing car. But not Bruce, never. And yet it happened.

We often speculate on just how things would have panned out if only X hadn't died. With Bruce, I feel it would have particularly interesting. And he was still a young man- it just seemed that he had been around for a long time. The best would have been yet to come, in terms of cars with a McLaren badge on the front.

Much, much, missed, and I'll be having a quiet and reflective drink in his honour later today.

#19 Vicuna

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Posted 02 June 2005 - 10:12

Originally posted by ian senior
The death of Bruce shook me absolutely rigid, more so than any other driver before or since. In those days, you could almost expect certain drivers to meet their end in a racing car. But not Bruce, never. And yet it happened.

We often speculate on just how things would have panned out if only X hadn't died. With Bruce, I feel it would have particularly interesting. And he was still a young man- it just seemed that he had been around for a long time. The best would have been yet to come, in terms of cars with a McLaren badge on the front.

Much, much, missed, and I'll be having a quiet and reflective drink in his honour later today.


I just have.

Nice words Ian.

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#20 simonlewisbooks

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Posted 02 June 2005 - 10:43

Originally posted by ian senior
And he was still a young man- it just seemed that he had been around for a long time

Very true, in fact it's hard to take in that someone still so young had been involved in so much top-notch racing history ! My mental image is always of someone at least ten years older than he actually was. Remarkable chap.

Simon Lewis
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#21 fines

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Posted 02 June 2005 - 16:45

Winning isn't everything, but it's somewhat better than finishing second! -- Bruce McLaren

#22 Doug Nye

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Posted 02 June 2005 - 21:36

I had just returned from the Nurburgring 1,000Kms to the house I was sharing with some pals at the time, and as I walked up to the front door one of them opened it and stepped out and said quietly "Doug, there's just been a piece on the radio news saying Bruce McLaren has been killed testing at Goodwood!". I can still picture that moment. It still seems just as unbelievable now as it seemed then. We didn't have to believe it...but it was true. But that kind of thing happened quite often in those days. And there was more to come...

DCN

#23 Barry Boor

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Posted 02 June 2005 - 22:00

I was laying on my bed recovering from a day in my first year of teaching the young boys of Dagenham when Mum came in to tell me what she had heard on the radio.

Like Doug, I can see it all so clearly.....

#24 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 02 June 2005 - 22:17

Right after a brief stand down over Memorial Day, we staged for an exercise and possible deployment back to Southeast Asia -- this was during the Cambodian incursion for those not familiar with those sorts of things -- and after about 10 days we did another drop, this time back at our home station. Not until about two weeks after his death did I find out about Bruce McLaren. I was so surprised. He seemed to be somehow apart from that sort of thing. However, as we also knew all too well then, no one was apart from such a fate. And, as always, Life went on somehow....

#25 Ray Bell

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Posted 02 June 2005 - 22:53

For some reason, my memory tells me of a cold morning on Merrylands railway station...

But I didn't catch the train those days.

I remember well walking from that station when I heard the Timmy Mayer news... arriving at home to have it thrust at me when I walked in the door. I was there at Longford when Rocky Tresise and Robin d'Abrera died, but heard that on the radio from the other end of the circuit. I can still hear Ron McKinnon's voice. The week before I'd been driving along Dandenong Road en route to Sandown when we heard of Lex Davison's death on the car radio.

I remember Mary Packard telling me about Mike Spence when we walked into the AARC office one lunchtime... but so many have drifted into a blurred background. Fireball Roberts, Jim Clark, Lodovico Scarfiotti... Ignazio Giunti... Peter Windsor (yes, the same Peter Windsor) and Bob Levett repeating his name over and over and over at an Oran Park night meeting and the next day we heard he was gone.

Pedro Rodriguez and Jo Siffert I have stored together... newspaper reports at A J Heasman's while doing my delivery rounds. I'm quite sure it was only Seppi's that I saw there, but they were inseparable in my mind.

Fangio I can remember... on the radio when I was working nights with a friend. Max Stewart... got into a cab on the way to the meeting where he'd died in practice... the driver mentioned a driver had died, I hadn't heard a word, wouldn't find out till the other end of the trip. Graham Hill... I was at Phillip Island racing, I think they had a minute's silence there for him. I was driving home from work at RCN one night, just left the office, Max pulled up alongside me at the lights outside the University, wound down his left hand window and called out, "Peterson died..."

As always, I accelerated away when they turned green and drove away. We always look for that green light and drive away, don't we? Just like Bruce did.

But why do I think of a cold morning on Merrylands railway station?

#26 nick stone

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Posted 02 June 2005 - 23:06

It's strange that this is another of those moments where you remember clearly where you were when you learned the news. I was in Hamburg and read it - shocked and tearful - in the Morgenpost on my way to work. I am a New Zealander and we had lost a national hero.

It is only fitting his name is still carried proudly in the sport he loved.

R.I.P Bruce.

#27 356jlp

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Posted 02 June 2005 - 23:46

Like everyone, I remember the morning (in the U.S. Eastern Time zone) I heard of his death. I too was devasteted.

I was a young man living in Pittsburgh, PA, U.S.A. One of my father's best friends was VP of Public Relations for Gulf Oil, which was headquartered in Pittsburgh. He arranged for me to visit places like Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio in the glory days of the McLaren Can-Am cars and the Gulf-Porsche 917s as the guest of Gulf, sponsor of both teams. Fot thosse who don't remember at those spectacular race meetings there would be an endurance race on Saturday and a Can-Am race on Sunday. Did we ever have a more wonderful era of U.S. road racing that then!

I had the honor of meeting Bruce McLaren ("Mr. McLaren" to me) inclucing dinner with him, Denny Hulme, David Hobbs and George Eaton, along with some Gulf folks one evening. What an astounding privilege for a yourg motor racing nut at the time! He impressed me as a wonderful, soft-spoken and kind gentleman.

Anyhow, please join me in saying a word (or prayer, if that is your preference) in the memory of
Bruce, in honor of his family and in recognition of a bygone era of motor racing.

#28 Wolf

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Posted 02 June 2005 - 23:57

Ray, didn't You tell the story about hitching the ride on Your way to a race meeting and being picked up by Bruce himself? Anyways, I'm sure someone did, and it's one of the first things that pops in my mind when Bruce is mentioned.

Unfortunately, I don't have recollections from the time- I was preparing for my grand entrance into this world (involving thunder, ligthning and storm I'm told), which was but a fortnight away...

#29 wildman

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Posted 03 June 2005 - 04:02

My 10th birthday fell on the day after Bruce died, and I'm sure my (non-motorhead) parents wondered why I was somewhat distracted that day. His was probably the first driver fatality that affected me on a personal level. I'll never forget the moment I heard it on the car radio. My innocent enthusiasm for these loud, fast things with wheels was suddenly tempered by brutal reality. Only a few years earlier, Grand Prix had set me on an irreversible path toward motorsports obsession, but even its spectacular and graphic portrayals of the sport's violent consequences didn't impress upon me the true stakes of the game. June 2, 1970 brought it home.

Today I went back and read Eoin Young's column on McLaren's death in the September 1970 issue of Road & Track. Truly a poignant piece - Young, of course, was a close friend of Bruce's, having been invited to be one of the first McLaren employees in 1962, and serving as co-author of his autobiography, From The Cockpit.

ESY wrote:
The death of a driver is hard to accept. You can say that those who live by the sword should be prepared to die by it, but deep down you don't really mean it. If drivers like Bruce and Piers had gone racing only for the money, perhaps such an attitude might be fitting, but they both went racing because they really and truly enjoyed doing it. The fact that they were successful and made money doing it, was something of a bonus.


We lost so much more than a man that day.

#30 cm50

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Posted 03 June 2005 - 05:52

I too vividly remember that day. I was in Auckland on Queen St going to some movie. While hanging around I noticed the headlines of the evening paper telling of his accident, I was numb with shock at the demise of my hero, the man who I had gone into the aviation industry to get the background so I could go and work for him. I only met him once and his advise to this young apprentice was to stay and finish my training and then give him a call. Of course it never happened.

I often wonder to this day how different if any, McLaren Team would be today if he was still here. Would he have taken the team in different directions etc although I have no doubt it would be as successfull as it is.

#31 Ray Bell

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Posted 03 June 2005 - 10:16

Originally posted by Wolf
Ray, didn't You tell the story about hitching the ride on Your way to a race meeting and being picked up by Bruce himself? Anyways, I'm sure someone did, and it's one of the first things that pops in my mind when Bruce is mentioned.....


No, Wolf, not me...

That was someone in Canada, though the story came from FLB in a post in March 2001... your memory is good, and it was indeed an outstanding little story... it was here:

http://forums.atlasf...=&postid=314881

Originally posted by FLB
Although not strictly about driving, a friend once told me the following anecdote about one of his friends.

In the late 1960's, the guy didn't own a car. Being a resourceful fellow, he hitchhiked for a ride to Tremblant, thinking he would make it as far as he could, but not really hoping. He was picked up by a small guy who drove a big Chevrolet. He spoke English with a funny accent. When asked where he was going, the driver said "St-Jovite", to the fan's delight. Here was an obvious fellow race fan. They talked about racing the whole way. When they reached the track, they said their goodbyes and went their separate ways.

The hiker later realized he had been picked up by Bruce McLaren.



#32 Udo K.

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Posted 04 June 2005 - 14:40

Posted Image

#33 macoran

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Posted 03 June 2007 - 22:59

R.I.P Bruce McLaren

your memory lives on !!!...and how !



Edit: I am a day late.

#34 sterling49

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Posted 05 June 2007 - 00:54

Originally posted by macoran
R.I.P Bruce McLaren

your memory lives on !!!...and how !



Edit: I am a day late.


Orange has never been the same again, the news filtered through in the afternoon, I had walked home from school after an "O" level exam, and yes, another great driver had perished...... What an awful year for motor racing this was turning out to be. God bless Bruce, I am lucky to have seen him in most of his cars, except the ground shaking M6 and M8. But my imagination was fired so well reading about Edmonton, St Jovite et al. Go Lewis!

#35 f1steveuk

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Posted 05 June 2007 - 08:09

I was ten. I had done some kart races, and got "into" F1 at that time, having watch the Geman GP on the telly with Ray Baxter commentating (1969) and all the high wings. Christmas 1969 I was given a huge model of an M8, all orange and Reynolds stickers. I heard the news on the radio, then saw the pictures, and as a ten year old, they were horrific. As always, such a waste....

#36 Broke bloke

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Posted 05 June 2007 - 11:23

I was 12, in my bedroom building one of those gorgeous Tamiya 12th scale F1 models - possibly the gold leaf lotus 49B - and my mum shouted up the stairs to tell me what happened. Never did get to see the news reports that day to find out what had happened. Very sad, a great loss.

Don't you just love that orange. The can am cars must have been awesome, sadly never seen one in the flesh only pictures. Loved reading about the "Bruce and Denny show" in Motoring News when they were dominating the series.

James

#37 fines

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Posted 09 June 2007 - 11:19

:cry:

I'm far too young to remember him from his active time, but when I got interested in 'his' period seven or eight years later, he was the one I took an immediate liking to - and his cars!

RIP, Bruce...

#38 R.W. Mackenzie

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Posted 09 June 2007 - 14:39

I was 14 and just days away from going to my first race at Mosport (the 1970 Can Am). It hit me like a ton of bricks. Bruce had been a real hero of mine and I was looking forward to seeing him more than anything else. Then in practice for the race Richard Brown crashed and was killed. The next year at my second ever race (the 1971 Canadian GP) Wayne Kelly was killed during the Formula Ford preliminary event. For the first time my interest in racing really sagged.

It certainly came back but I stopped keeping the scrapbook I had started three years earlier and it was the closest I ever came to completely losing interest in racing.

Bob Mackenzie

#39 David M. Kane

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Posted 09 June 2007 - 15:20

I was 29 and I was totally shocked, "how could this happen?" It was particularly shocking because he was the 1st driver I had seen in the flesh who had been killed. Just the previous summer I had been within inches of him in the pits at Mid-Ohio. Until then I didn't even know of his leg condition,
that's how little I really knew at the time.

My biggest memory was the persona he broadcasted. You could just tell people responded to him.

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#40 Buford

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Posted 09 June 2007 - 15:35

I found out in the manner I often did when I was growing up, though this time I was just out of college. My mother would tell me about driver's deaths in the morning after waking me up. She would have just read about them in the morning paper and that would be how I would find out. This one hit me particularly hard, and I think it was the last driver death that did. Soon I was racing myself and no longer considered myself a hero worshiper fan After that I took driver deaths in a more matter of fact manner, as you have to do if you might be next.

#41 Barry Boor

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Posted 09 June 2007 - 20:46

Coming to the end of my first year of teaching, I used to collapse exhausted on my bed for an hour or so after coming home.

My Mum woke me with the terrible news about 5 o'clock.

As with so many others, I don't think that first awful moment ever really leaves you.

#42 Hugewally

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 05:25

June 2, 1970
McLaren Crashes
Car racer, designer, & manufacturer Bruce McLaren was killed when his McLaren M8D lost its back end at high speed & collided w/an earthen embankment at the Goodwood racetrack in England. Born the son of a truck driver in Auckland, New Zealand, McLaren contracted a childhood hip disease that would keep him in hospitals for 3 years of his early life. By the age of 14, he had recovered fully. His father, a part-time mechanic w/an interest in racing, helped Bruce build his 1st car. Bruce entered his 1st competitive event, a hill climb, when he was 15. At 19, McLaren was picked by his mentor, successful Kiwi G/P driver Jack Brabham, to serve as New Zealand's representative in the Driver in Europe Program. Bruce took quick advantage of the exposure, winning the F2 section in his 1st race at the trying Nurburgring track in Germany. The following year he became the youngest man ever to win an F1 G/P event, a record that he still holds today. In '61, he finished a close 2nd in the World Championship race to his team leader at Cooper, Jack Brabham. But Bruce McLaren didn't make his greatest impact on the track. By '64, he was building his own race cars & aiding Ford's design team in its highly successful GT program. McLaren exhibited a gift for car design. In '66, he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans for Ford. In '65, McLaren started his own G/P racing team. He & his close friend & fellow driver, Denny Hulme, won 3 races in '68 in McLaren-Fords. Then McLaren turned his attention to the sports-car racing of the Can-Am Series. As the Can-Am Series grew, so too did the McLaren Team's domination of the event. After 4 impressive years at the top of the series, in '69 the McLaren Team posted a clean sheet, winning 11 of 11 races. By entering his car in F1, Can-Am, & Indy Car events all in the same year, McLaren established his team as a success in diverse classes of racing. His peers regarded McLaren as a perfectionist. He summed up his attitude toward the dangers of car racing eloquently:

"To do something well is so worthwhile, that to die trying to do it better cannot be foolhardy. It would be a waste of life to do nothing w/one's ability, for I feel that life is measured in achievement, not in years alone."

In 1970, testing his newest Can-Am car, the M8D, McLaren lost his life pushing the limits of his abilities; the racing team that bears his name survives him as one of F1's dominant forces.

:cry:

#43 thunder427

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 05:49

hugewally;great 'tribute' thread...But!!..just clarify in your thread that (now Sir )Jack Brabham is a True Blue Aussie' and they, the aussie fans are real proud of thier 'Hero', (and I've got to live here, I'm A Kiwi !!) and one other small point,I think the car let Bruce down ,not his ability...Bruce is to New Zealand what Sir Jack is to Australia as is Sir Stirling Moss to England...perhaps we should 'tout' for a Knighthood for 'Sir Bruce....Sounds like a plan, should be a great thread 'hugewally' !!!

#44 Bloggsworth

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 07:56

I used to work in Covent Garden, and the short way to The Strand was out through the back door and down the alleyway alongside the Adephi Theatre; on the opposite side of the road, on the corner outside The Abbey National, was a newsvendor's stand onto which could be clipped the handpainted headline of the day. As I was half way down the passage I saw framed in the exit of the dark tunnel that ended the short cut "Bruce McLaren killed", it hit me like a punch in the solar plexus. It was a day in the middle of the week, not a day on which racing drivers got killed. Had it been a Monaco Thursday, or any other day in a Grand Prix weekend the news would not have taken my breath away in such a manner, but a Wednesday, racing drivers don't get killed on Wednesdays.........................................

#45 fines

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 08:02

Bruce rules! :up:

#46 Vicuna

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 10:46

Another early morning call with bad news 38 yrs ago

#47 Manfred Cubenoggin

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 13:14

A grievous loss. I remember well the day and the news it brought.

I will be attending a CanAm revival meet @ Mosport running from June 20-22. I will revel in seeing so many cars bearing his name tearing up rural Ontario yet again.

TY, Bruce.

#48 RS2000

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 13:17

Originally posted by Bloggsworth
I used to work in Covent Garden, and the short way to The Strand was out through the back door and down the allyway alongside the Adephi Theatre; on the opposite side of the road, on the corner outside The Abbey National, was a newsvendor's stand onto which could be clipped the handpainted headline of the day. As I was half way down the passage I saw framed in the exit of the dark tunnel that ended the short cut "Bruce McLaren killed", it hit me like a punch in the solar plexus. It was a day in the middle of the week, not a day on which racing drivers got killed. Had it been a Monaco Thursday, or any other day in a Grand Prix weekend the news would not have taken my breath away in such a manner, but a Wednesday, racing drivers don't get killed on Wednesdays.........................................

I guess I must have seen something similar down towards the Trafalgar Square end of The Strand.

#49 Michael Oliver

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 15:21

Oddly enough, this morning I was reading former McLaren man Phil Kerr's account of this very sad day in his autobiography 'To Finish First' and it is very moving, particularly in terms of the way everyone pulled together in the aftermath of Bruce's death...

I remember going to Spa for the Belgian GP just a few days later and the McLaren team was missing from the paddock: 1970 really wasn't a good year, what with Courage and Rindt too.

Michael

#50 Hugewally

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 16:43

Originally posted by thunder427
hugewally;great 'tribute' thread...But!!..just clarify in your thread that (now Sir )Jack Brabham is a True Blue Aussie' and they, the aussie fans are real proud of thier 'Hero', (and I've got to live here, I'm A Kiwi !!) and one other small point,I think the car let Bruce down ,not his ability...Bruce is to New Zealand what Sir Jack is to Australia as is Sir Stirling Moss to England...perhaps we should 'tout' for a Knighthood for 'Sir Bruce....Sounds like a plan, should be a great thread 'hugewally' !!!

Oops... I should've known better... I plead a simple cut & paste from an email... :blush: