Tag Archives: USGP

US Release of ‘Senna’, USGP at SXSW, and CNBC in F1

While most of the US watches news develop overseas and waits for the season opener, the award-winning documentary ‘Senna’ opened to a packed house at the SXSW festival last weekend, and on hand were the film’s director, Asif Kapadia and USGP organizer Tavo Hellmund.  Check out the Austin Grand Prix Blog for some great coverage as well as shots of the Williams FW33 that made an appearance at a reception put on by Formula One United States organizers.

Kudos there as well – a smart way to embrace the history of the sport and it’s fans, the USGP was able to capitalize on a popular film – one that sold out faster than any other in SXSW history.  The race’s success ultimately will come down to how the local community embraces Formula 1, and from all reviews, ‘Senna’ as a film looks to be regarded on par with ‘Pride of the Yankees’.  Austin’s Statesman reports that director Kapadia has hinted at a June release for the United States market.

In other US Market news, CNBC has recently signed with the Marussia Virgin F1 team as their Business Media Partner.  CNBC is in a great position to enter India and Russia when the racing there begins, as well link up with a new global audience.  A quick look ’round the net suggests that CNBC’s content partnerships are shifting away from Dow Jones and Company (now owned by News Corporation), and towards other partners in international markets.

Last year, CNN International partnered with Lotus Racing, and one of the many benefits of their  sponsorship was that it put the CNN brand squarely on an iconic British car in front of their main competition’s audience at the BBC.  In effect, the BBC paid FOM and Bernie for the right to broadcast CNN’s logo on a car watched by millions in the BBC’s home market for a historic return of the Lotus name.

Possibly in a similar fashion, CNBC could leverage their presence on the F1 platform, especially in Austin, where US broadcaster SPEED (also owned by News Corporation) will certainly have a strong media presence covering the race for their US television audience.

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A Visit to the Bruce McLaren Trust

 

I had the opportunity on a recent road trip through New Zealand to visit the Bruce McLaren Trust. My visit made for an afternoon full of memories of Bruce, his legacy, and life growing up above a service station in an Auckland suburb.

Bruce McLaren's childhood home

Just a short drive up the hill from the local motorway, this inconspicuous building marks genesis – the spot where Bruce McLaren’s boyhood home met the world of his father’s service station beneath. This small neighborhood service station is the childhood home of Bruce McLaren, and currently home to the Trust run by his sister Jan for the preservation of his memory.

Easy to miss, but look for the kiwi, the door's open

Once inside, a staircase lined with posters, photos, and family memorabilia overwhelmed my girlfriend and I as we walked inside. This was a welcome sight after the long drive we had just made from Wellington, but it was just what I had been imagining we’d come across. Space was extremely tight as this was the small flat Bruce and his family lived in. Every inch of wallspace is covered with important photos, posters, awards, and letters, and helped tell the story of Bruce McLaren’s life growing up, absorbing the world of automobiles from childhood.

Memorabilia line the walls inside

Still a little dazed admiring posters from the old Can Am circuits, a doorbell alerted those above that we’d arrived. We were greeted by David, a volunteer at the Trust who guided us down a main hallway decorated with photos, where we arrived at the ‘wall of fame’. This was an amazing signature tribute to Kiwi racing heroes and the people in motorsport who worked with and for Bruce, and are now known simply as the mob – or the ‘McLaren Old Boys’.

Further down the hallway were posters, trophy cases, and a moment with Bruce’s two CanAm trophies from 1967 and 1969, made from a beautiful floating sculpture:

Off the main hall, the kitchen serves as offices for Jan McLaren, Bruce’s younger sister. Jan is both co-founder and board member of the Trust, and took the time to talk a bit about her brother and the Trust’s aims and objectives. McLaren International Limited and the Bruce McLaren Trust have a special relationship which guides the coexistence of the two entities, and the Trust is involved in preserving the memory of New Zealand’s legendary driver and his cars through activities both locally and internationally.

The author and Jan McLaren, co-founder, The Bruce McLaren Trust

In Jan’s office, photos from Bruce’s childhood show him as a small boy photographed in the very spot I stood as I admired portraits of a loving family life. Bruce’s father ran the garage below, and as I learned more about the family history in their very own home, my visit became more and more engaging. Across the hall from the office was the room Bruce grew up in, where we learned how he would watch the trains outside his bedroom window as they arrived.

Visiting here has to be the most immersed one could get in a legend like Bruce’s life, and the amount of personal and team memorabilia throughout the home only helps to reinforce the impact his life had on so many. It wasn’t long before a sense of wonder took over when I got a call to the next room to see something from my girlfriend, however . . .

 

Bruce McLaren's original racing overalls - amazing

David had shared some crown jewels with us, and while there’s plenty of orange treasure throughout, there’s also a fair bit of red – with much of the history of the team well taken care of and collected after Bruce’s passing in 1970. Along with Bruce’s overalls came out none other than James Hunt’s firesuit.

James Hunt's original McLaren firesuit

Never have I ever felt more treated to a display of Grand Prix history in such a friendly and enthusiastic way – Jan also took the time with me to talk a little about the Trust and their organization’s goals. I’ll have edited video posted shortly. It’s worth noting that the Sonoma Historics will feature McLaren as their marque this year, and Jan did mention to me she may be planning a visit in June for the event. She also mentioned that progress is being made on the film about Bruce’s life, many will be happy to hear.

Bruce's first Formula 1 win at the USGP Sebring 1959: Guinness World Record, Youngest GP Winner: 22y 104d

If you do decide to drop by, send an email in advance to the staff to let them know you’re coming. Please note that this is a very tight space full of memorabilia, so a small group is nearly too large to accommodate inside. Tour buses are not a fit for the size of the space, but for more information on your trip, or to join the Bruce McLaren Trust, please visit http://bruce-mclaren.com to make a donation. This is truly a special place for racing fans everywhere, and as more donations arrive, they are sure to be able to share Bruce’s memory with a wider audience. Their website is currently undergoing a renovation, but check back with the site for more updates and online gift shop in the near future.

After visiting, we stopped off at the grave of Bruce McLaren, located about a 20 minute drive West. I can’t imagine what meeting the man in person would have meant, but after my experience at his home and listening to the stories about him from his sister, I know it would have been a brush with greatness.

 

Bruce Leslie McLaren: 1937 - 1970

McLaren’s longevity as a team is a testament to it’s founder, and its history crosses several country borders as well as many nationalities throughout it’s existence. Today, racing fans usually associate McLaren with the UK based Formula 1 team, but many may not know that it was an American, Teddy Mayer, who played an important role in the continuation and development of the team after Bruce’s passing.

Connecting the dots to McLaren’s roots in Auckland, I separated the team’s history into three distinct phases, beginning with it’s roots with the team’s founder, chief designer and driver, Bruce McLaren, who from 1958 – 1970 raced in and then developed a variety of cars, winning his first Grand Prix in 1959 at Sebring, then dominating Can-Am in later years with his own cars. Bruce was tragically killed in a testing accident in his Can-Am car at Goodwood, and American Teddy Mayer (whose late brother Timmy Mayer raced with and for McLaren) led the team at this time.

In this second phase of McLaren, Teddy, through a partnership setup in 1966 with Bruce, grew McLaren Racing Ltd., which developed and raced to win at the Indy 500 and take Can-Am championships while continuing development on their Grand Prix cars. In this era of Cosworth power, James Hunt (1976) and Emerson Fittipaldi (1974) won two world championships with McLaren with Marlboro sponsorship. The distinctive red and white paint would signal the start of phase three at the team, and the arrival of a new regime at McLaren.

Finally, after a period of decline in the team’s fortunes on the track, McLaren was merged in a takeover deal involving Project 4, whose F2 and F3 teams led by Ron Dennis had existing sponsorship from Marlboro. My research online shows Ron entered into a partnership with McLaren in September 1980, with Teddy Mayer remaining on board until 1982. The team since has gone on to win quite a bit as the sport’s grown and ‘evolved’.

Formula 1 is, as ever, about change, but after seeing so much history on display at the Trust, it was remarkable to see this this note of appreciation to Bruce signed by nearly everyone involved with the 1962 United States Grand Prix.

Bruce McLaren's 1962 Certificate of Appreciation from the USGP

Just a basic thank you note – but it strikes me as an incredible example from history of how racing together forged the unity and sense of kinship felt and shared in Bruce’s time. Many thanks to the Bruce McLaren Trust for preserving and displaying these important memories, and special thanks to Jan and David for sharing their afternoon with us.

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America and Porsche in F1

Dan Gurney drives his Porsche 804 to take the win at Rouen, 1962

Dan Gurney in the Porsche 804's only Formula 1 win at Rouen

The Cahier Archive

 

 

News that Porsche and Audi are considering their futures in Formula 1 with the upcoming discussions on engine regulations in 2013 is good news for the sport’s success in America.  Porsche’s chairman, Matthias Mueller, has been quoted recently at the Paris Auto Show saying that “we have to discuss whether it makes better sense for one of the [two] brands to go into LMP1, and the other brand into Formula 1. So we will have a round-table to discuss the pros and cons.”

America and the upcoming Formula 1 race in Austin would certainly be a factor in Porsche’s decision, as Porsche’s 2nd largest core market is the Americas with 31% of all Porsche sales taking place here last year.  29% of sales last year were in North America alone.

Currently, Porsche is part of the F1 circus across the world with the Mobil 1 Supercup series – a support series to Grand Prix races since 1993.   2010 will see 10 Supercup support races across the world, with drivers competing on the same tracks Formula 1 fans enjoy on Sundays.  The GT3 Cup cars running at each of these races features customers behind the wheel – something which ties to the very ethos of the company.

Porsche as a brand has always maintained that their presence in world class competitive racing contributes directly to what you buy at the dealership.  Porsche prides itself on their ability to provide a part number for anything you may need for the street – or the track.  From weekend racers to GT3 Cup cars – they’ve got a dealer part number you can give at their parts desk.  The idea here is clear – what’s relevant on the track is relevant on the street.

Lately, Porsche’s profile at LeMans has been taking a back seat to Audi’s dominance in the LMP1 class, so a continuation of Audi’s momentum at La Sarthe would seem to lead Porsche in the direction of F1.  But is F1 a fit for the brand?  Recent engine regulation discussions with the FOTA Technical Working Group have been open to all manufacturers, and Porsche’s presence there with talk of a 1.6 liter turbo on the grid in 2013 could mesh well with the company’s future plans for the development of their upcoming product lines.

F1 has been said to be a space race and is usually a marquee event in each country it visits.  At different times, some manufacturers have leveraged F1’s global reach and exclusivity to create a ‘halo effect’ around their brand, while at different times other brands have justified their participation through tangible results and innovation in a series which creates relevant road car development.

Balancing the value and availability of each to Porsche are some of the many elements to consider when getting things just right if they enter F1.  If the tide’s right, and a new American audience is in place with a home GP, Porsche could find the better value getting back into the sport.  They certainly have a lot of rich racing history in America, and F1 could just be a platform of choice for the brand.

‘Porsche’s shock F1 return plans’  – Autocar

Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup

Porsche Cars NA

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