Family Reunion

We meet Amanda McLaren, the only child of our founder Bruce – and our new Brand Ambassador.

 

The pristine white corridors of the McLaren Technology Centre just outside London are a far cry from the small building with a dirt floor where McLaren Racing was first formed back in 1963 – but to Amanda McLaren it still feels like home.

To come from that to this, the fact that it’s still called McLaren, that the people working here know who my father was – I couldn’t be more proud,’ she declares with a smile. ‘It’s fabulous to be here, to be part of the team and part of McLaren Automotive.’

Amanda was just four years old when her father was killed in a testing accident at Goodwood in 1970 – but ever since that tragic event, the connection between the family and the business that bears its name has remained strong.

 

Intimate family photographs offer a glimpse of Bruce McLaren’s private life away from the racetrack, as a loving father dedicated to his daughter Amanda.

 

Amanda’s mother Patty was part of McLaren’s racing team until the 1980s, and still maintains a relationship with the McLaren Technology Group. Amanda, of course, was immersed in the world of motorsport from birth: ‘ “Uncle Graham” was Graham Hill, and “Uncle Jack” was really Jack Brabham,’ she recalls. ‘My husband had pictures of them on his wall as a child, but to me they were family friends around our dining table.’

Since becoming an adult, she has always maintained her links with McLaren. Living in her parents’ native New Zealand, she accompanied a McLaren F1 to the children’s home near Auckland where her father spent three years battling Perthes disease. Her husband Stephen shares her passion for racing, and together they present the annual Bruce McLaren Trophy on New Zealand’s South Island. 

The couple plan their holidays to coincide with motorsport events, be it Can-Am anniversaries in the US, or the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK – and it was one of these events that ultimately led to her dream job at McLaren.

At the 2013 Goodwood Festival of Speed, McLaren Automotive Chief Executive Mike Flewitt invited Amanda and Stephen to attend the launch of the 50th McLaren retailer. Appropriately for the company’s 50th anniversary year, this was McLaren Auckland in her father’s hometown – and over drinks at that event, discussions began that ultimately led to roles being offered to both Amanda and her husband.  

What Kiwi boy wouldn’t want to work at McLaren?’ asks Amanda. A former police officer in New Zealand’s Diplomatic Protection Squad, Stephen is now a Visitor Experience Ambassador at the McLaren Technology Centre. 

 
 

Amanda has always been passionate about motorsport, having grown up among racing royalty, while her father’s road car was the original McLaren M6GT, a sports car derived from the M6A Can-Am racecar. 

 

As for Amanda’s role, no one is better suited to it: ‘My job is to immerse people in the McLaren brand, and be a link to the legacy and heritage that is so important to us. I’ll host visitors to the McLaren Technology and Production Centres, be present at the opening of retailers and at motor shows, and be involved in the McLaren P1™ GTR Driver Programme as that rolls out.

‘My first official function was at the Long Service Awards, where Mike Flewitt held a dinner for the people who have been with McLaren for 10 and 20 years. It was lovely for my first duties to be for the staff, as without them none of what McLaren does would be possible.’

"TO HEAR STORIES LIKE THAT ABOUT YOUR FATHER, AS A DAUGHTER, IT MAKES ME ALMOST AS PROUD AS HIS ACHIEVEMENTS – THE CARS, THE DESIGNS AND THE WINS."

Amanda McLaren

Although she was too young to remember her father, Amanda loves hearing friends and family speak about him. ‘They talk about what a nice guy he was. There’s a famous story where one of his mechanics said: “We worked for Bruce, and we did as Bruce told us, and if he told us we were going to march into the desert and build a brick wall, we would have done it, because we believed in him so much.” To hear stories like that about your father, as a daughter, it makes me almost as proud as his achievements – the cars, the designs and the wins.’

Bruce had a few escapades along with his achievements, mind. Amanda recalls a story told by her mother after Bruce won the Monaco GP in 1962: ‘My parents were invited to the palace for dinner with the Rainiers [Monaco’s royal family]. They were asked to wait in an enormous hall with a polished marble floor, so my mother, being frightfully polite, sits down to wait. But the men, including my father, take off their shoes and start skating on this marble floor… and the door opens and in walks Princess Grace. So my mother is mortified, and the men are hastily scrabbling round for their shoes. I don’t think anyone ever found out what Princess Grace thought, but my mother says she had a lovely sense of humour so perhaps she didn’t mind too much.’

 

 

Amanda doesn’t know what McLaren might have become had her father lived, but she’s certain he’d be proud of what it has become. ‘For me to be representing McLaren and my father, to not just be part of the past but moving forward in the present, is so exciting. I know he wanted to build road cars, and with his passion and determination that would have happened. Beyond that I wouldn’t speculate, but what McLaren has become he would have approved of. I don’t say it lightly, but I do believe my father would be proud. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to be here.’

 

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