June 2nd, 1970. It was a hazy, muggy Tuesday afternoon when 33-year-old Bruce McLaren, racer, constructor, winner of 4 Formula One grand prix, and champion of the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans, raced around the Sussex countryside on the famous Goodwood racetrack, testing his new Can-Am competitor, the model M8D. Leaving the pitlane after having made some final adjustments, McLaren roared back out on to the track. Cornering through the fast, long left-hander of St. Mary’s, he then muscled the car towards the sharp right of Lavant, bursting onto the long, fast Goodwood straight. As the M8D’s 670 horsepower V8 engine pushed the car’s speedometer up towards 270kph, the prototype new rear wing suddenly broke away from the bodywork, and in a split-second, the M8D was airborne off the track, smashing violently into a stone bunker used as a marshalling stand. The debris from the crash was scattered everywhere, and McLaren, thrown free from the wreckage, died instantly.
Born in New Zealand in 1937, Bruce McLaren overcame a bone disease in his youth to become a fierce competitor in motor racing. Having achieved several successes behind the wheel, his true commitment and passion shone as a constructor starting the McLaren Racing Team, building lightning-fast 4-wheeled machines to compete in Formula One, Indy, Can-Am, and Le Mans. His background in engineering shone as his cars were deemed by many as some of the most advanced in their field. It was McLaren’s belief that hard work and commitment toward your goal was the key to success. His statement “I feel that life is measured in achievement, not in years alone”, lays clear his mindset.
Known for their pure speed and superior reliability, the cars that went on to bear his name after his death have achieved multiple successes in all levels of professional motorsport, including 8 Constructors Championships and 12 Drivers Championships in Formula One, the pinnacle of motorsport design, power, and speed.
Today, while McLaren Formula One is still ripping up the track in grand prix racing, McLaren Automotive is manufacturing some of the most beautiful and powerful road cars in the world. The architecturally-stunning McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, Surry, England, currently produces 11 different models, all distinct in performance and trim, and all breathtakingly gorgeous. The model featured here, a 2015 650S Spider, is a prime example of the power and beauty that McLaren delivers. The mid-mounted, twin-turbo, 32-valve V8 engine delivers a throaty 640 hp to the rear wheels via a sophisticated variable valve timing (VVT) system, and a 7-speed Seamless-Shift dual-clutch gearbox. Car control and safety features include ProActive Chassis Control, ABS, traction and launch control, and an Active Aerodynamics system, incorporating Airbrake and DRS features. And all the while, big, soft Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires (235/35 R19 front, 305/30 R20 rear) keep everything nicely stuck to the road.
The interior, or more accurately, the cockpit, is an exotic mix of carbon fibre and alcantara, a high-tech fabric mix of polyester and polyurethane that has the plush feel and look of suede, but wears like iron. All the latest technology and critical vehicle information is on display in front of the driver, and a centre console touchscreen provides access to all settings and creature comforts.
The body, a lesson in how to draw one beautiful curved line, is comprised of strong and lightweight aluminum front and rear sub-structures, which is then wrapped in a Volcano Red carbon-fibre “monocell”, the engineering term for the Savile Row fitted suit this McLaren wears with classic British style.
But style needs substance, and the 650S doesn’t shy away from showing off its raw power. A listed maximum speed of 333 kph, and 0 to 100 kph time of 2.9 seconds, make it clear this is a machine designed to perform at the highest level. And the braking system, providing deceleration from 100 kph to 0 in just 29 meters (less than 100ft), combines safety and control with all that power. Not that you’d ever know whether the brakes really work, as this handsome, sexy beast looks like it’s moving even when standing still.
If you were the owner of this beautiful car, no one would be surprised if you carried a little swagger in your step, maybe even a little smug in your attitude. But if that’s the case, then our proud owner breaks the mold. This 650S is cared for by a man who comes by life honestly. Work hard, listen, learn, and believe in yourself, are the principles that make our owner and his family the humble and friendly people they are. It’s also about having the humility to never forget where you came from, and that you have to work for what you want. With this mindset, you appreciate what you do have, all that much more. So, when not enjoying the open roads, our owner is likely on the job site somewhere helping with an installation, or back home fixing whatever needs to be fixed, or building whatever needs to be built. But with all that hard work comes the payoff, and that payoff comes in the form of cruising down the back roads on a sunny day, the powered retractable hard top neatly stowed away, with your backside mere inches above the ground in a rocket that hugs both you and the road. I’m sure the 650S has an amazing sound system, but there’s nothing sweeter to my ears than the sound of that thoroughbred engine growling away inches behind your back. This is a car that wants to be driven, and rewards the driver with pure exhilaration.
Despite his winning record in Formula One, Bruce McLaren was never much for the nightlife that so many of his fellow drivers took part in. For Bruce, it was more often an evening at home with friends, likely winding up in the garage pouring through the latest technical manuals or sketching new suspension upgrades. His goal to create the finest, fastest racing machines never wavered, and he knew, much like the owner of this 650S, that only honest, hard work and commitment would make those goals a reality.
Written by: Kelli M. Maddocks | Resources: Flow Water Solutions