Keeping Bruce McLaren's Legacy Alive

Apr 2, 2024

A dollhouse is the only recollection Amanda McLaren has of the day her father died. But a lifetime of hearing stories and recollections, as well as the promise of future projects in his name, help keep the Bruce McLaren legacy alive.

Words Shaun Summerfield

“I was only four when he died,” says Amanda McLaren. “I actually remember the evening, but purely because I went to a friend's house and was given a dollhouse, and I wondered why I'd been given it; that's my only memory.”

It's also one of her few memories of life before her father’s fatal accident on June 2nd, 1970.

“I do remember being in South Africa after the Grand Prix there in March; I remember swimming at the resort complex we stayed at in the Kruger National Park, and I remember bits of that. But unfortunately, no, I don't remember dad.

“However, I've got loads of photos and I've got all the people that remember him and tell me the stories. I'm very fortunate to have that,” she says.

So cruelly robbed of her own memories, McLaren is now working passionately with the Bruce McLaren Trust to ensure that New Zealand's most significant contribution to world motorsport is remembered and celebrated.

Amanda has taken part in many of McLaren's 60th anniversary celebrations during 2023. Still, as much as she has enjoyed looking back, her main goal is the future. The Trust's major project is to restore the original McLaren Garage in Auckland's Remuera.

“Dad spent his early years in the flat above the garage, and every time he came downstairs, there was his father running the service station and working on cars. That's where Dad met Jack Brabham and where he started work on the Austin Seven Ulster that started his motorsport career.”

Once complete, the ground floor of the McLaren Garage will be restored to how it was in the 1960s, with the upstairs area home to a combination of historic and current McLaren motorsport.

With McLaren Racing CEO Zac Brown as a patron, the Trust has a genuine link with the current team. She credits Brown for helping promote the team's heritage, including reintroducing the iconic papaya orange to the Teams F1 cars.

“That's the original McLaren colour, and it's great for people to hear the story about McLaren Orange and the racing cars from the sixties.

“What I want to do is tell the inspirational story of a young kid with a disease that potentially meant he would never walk again, overcoming that and fulfilling his dream and his vision of creating a Formula One team. Being able to do that in that location at the McLaren Garage, I think it's really wonderful.”

Entrusted to Future Generations

Founded in 1997, the Bruce McLaren Trust aims to recognise the contribution and achievements of Bruce McLaren and other Kiwi drivers, engineers, and designers. Looking to the future of the automotive industry and motorsport’s global stage, the Trust also serves to assist young drivers and engineers achieve their ambitions.

The Bruce McLaren Trust maintains a strong link to McLaren Racing and McLaren Automotive in the United Kingdom, and to the University of Auckland, where it supports future generations of engineers with an engineering scholarship. The scholarship gives Faculty of Engineering students the opportunity to spend three months interning at the famed car company, as well as within McLaren Racing.

During 2023, Bruce McLaren himself was recognised by the University of Auckland, which honoured the late engineer and racing driver with a posthumous honorary Doctor of Engineering degree – a fitting plaudit during the company’s 60th year. The honour was bestowed upon him at a ceremony at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking in August, with Amanda McLaren accepting the Doctorate on her father’s behalf.

The Doctor of Engineering degree was one of four posthumous honorary doctorates conferred as part of the University of Auckland’s 140th anniversary celebrations.