A record five McLaren Formula 5000s will be on the grid for this year’s Taupo Historic Grand Prix.
It will mark only the first time in the 18-year history of the SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series that five cars bearing the surname of the famed Bruce McLaren will be racing one another.
Tony Roberts will be back behind the wheel of his ex-Bob Esseks/Sam Posey McLaren M10A for the meeting at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park.
A man responsible for the tracking down, restoration, racing and on-sale of early examples of Bruce McLaren’s handiwork, Roberts says the record grid is a unique tribute to the Grand Prix pioneer.
“Back when these cars were new there were only four on the grid at the NZGP meeting in January 1970,” Roberts said.
“And even a year later, when Graham McRae won the Tasman Series outright in an M10B, there were only seven McLarens in the field. So, to have five entered 50 years later makes me feel particularly proud to have played some small part in the process of keeping Bruce’s fantastic legacy alive.”
After pipping him for Class A honours last season, joining Roberts on the grid is Formula 5000 stalwart Frank Karl in his ex-Alan McKechnie team McLaren M10B 400-18S.
Feilding driver Tim Rush joins the field in his 1972 McLaren M22 – one of the latest McLaren’s in the field.
Series newcomer, Toby Annabell, will slot into the driver’s seat of his ex-David Good McLaren M10B 400-7.
The fifth and final McLaren will be steered by Tauranga driver Rob Ward. Ward is making his class debut in the ‘low-wing’ McLaren M10A he acquired from the United States in 2017.
Bruce McLaren played a large part in designing and testing the early production McLaren Formula 5000 single-seaters, starting with the M10A, then M10B.
The Taupo circuit was renamed in honour of McLaren in 2015, and it seems fitting that it will be at that venue where the record field will be in action.
“We honour Bruce’s name each and every day – every time we answer the phone, each member of our team says ‘hello; Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park’,” said circuit managing director, Tony Walker.
“Every person who drives in the gate and sees our greeting signs with the proud BMMP logo, every person who receives an email from us, every person who clicks on our web and social media sites – all of them are subtly reminded of one of New Zealand’s greatest-ever motorsport legends.
“What I find particularly pleasing is many of our younger visitors who walk up to me and say ‘tell me more about Bruce McLaren and where can I read about him?’”.
At least ten more F5000s are expected to join the fleet of McLaren’s for the three races over the weekend, preliminary races on Saturday and Sunday morning before the Historic Grand Prix race itself on Sunday afternoon.