As 2015 begins and the new McLaren-Honda Formula 1™ team and our customer GT3 teams begin another hunt for silverware, we look back at the one of the first trophies ever won by McLaren.


While you’ll have to look hard to find it, there’s a very modest cup in the trophy cabinet at the McLaren Technology Centre. Earned six decades ago, it’s so small and nondescript that it could get lost amongst all the other silverware on display – even the winner’s name has been engraved incorrectly on the back. 


The prize was awarded to our founder, Bruce McLaren, in 1954 for taking victory in his class at a hill climb event in his native New Zealand. Bruce was just 17 at the time, and driving a modified Austin Ulster that he – and his engineer father – had developed over the previous two years since Bruce's legendary debut at Muriwai Beach.



Bruce himself probably wasn’t too surprised to finish in first place. Even as a teenager, he had overcome plenty of adversity, having spent three years in a wheelchair after being struck by Perthes disease – a childhood hip disorder – at the age of nine. He was already demonstrating the strength of character that would make him both an exceptional racer and engineer, and he would have entered the event well aware of both his own speed and the car’s meticulous preparation.


But the event’s organisers were clearly caught out. Whoever engraved the cup gave him the wrong initial – it says ‘R McLaren’ – and even today no one knows how the mistake was made. New Zealand’s motorsport officials soon knew the name of this precocious newcomer, though – for three years, Bruce and his Ulster never failed to finish any event they entered, and won their class on every occasion. McLaren’s journey had well and truly begun. 



Now, decades later, the diminutive cup resides inside the incredible 174-metre-long trophy cabinet at the McLaren Technology Centre, surrounded by silverware from victories in Can-Am, IndyCar, at Le Mans, and of course in Formula 1™. But its significance in our history remains undiminished.



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