Even by the thrilling standards of 1960s motorsport, Can-Am was viscerally exciting. It was a race series for sports cars with power outputs that dwarfed those in Formula 1™ at the time, the closest motorsport has ever come to truly unrestricted competition.
...and it was a championship that the young McLaren racing team would come to dominate.
Although Can-Am’s official title was the Canadian American Challenge Cup, many of the constructors drawn to it in the early years were British, McLaren foremost among them. The driver line-up was truly international, with the bravest and most talented drawn to this high-speed series, as well as the prize and sponsorship money it attracted.
Created in 1966, Can-Am was born from the FIA’s laissez-faire Group 7 technical regulations, giving constructors almost total freedom. Cars needed to have enclosed wheels, two seats and some basic safety equipment, but there was no minimum weight, engine choice was unrestricted and aggressive aerodynamics were positively encouraged.
For the fledgling McLaren team and its founder, Bruce McLaren, Can-Am proved an irresistible challenge. McLaren had been working to produce sports car racers before the series began, and was ideally placed to move into it, with Bruce himself leading from the front by driving one of the team’s cars. Success followed quickly, with McLaren taking five consecutive drivers’ championships between 1967 and 1971, all as power outputs increased and speeds rose. McLaren also supplied numerous cars to other teams and privateers.
The huge speeds brought risks, too, a point tragically made when Bruce McLaren died while testing the McLaren M8D Can-Am race car in June 1970, just two weeks ahead of the start of the season. It was a disaster that could have broken a weaker team. Yet although they had been ordered to stay at home the day after Bruce died, every single McLaren employee came to work and the M8D was ready for the first race. saad.
Uncover the rich history of McLaren’s Can-Am heritage, from contesting the inaugural 1966 season, through five years of back-to-back domination.
THE DARING DRIVERS
From our company founder Bruce McLaren, to legends like Denny Hulme and Dan Gurney, Can-Am was the ultimate race series for the world’s best drivers.
THE RACE CARS
Driven by competition and technical freedom, discover the engineering innovations that McLaren pioneered in the fearsome Can-Am race series.
McLAREN 650S CAN-AM
Created by McLaren Special Operations (MSO), the limited edition 650S Can-Am honours McLaren’s five back-to-back titles in the Canadian-American Challenge Cup.