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The Bruce and Denny show makes a fast buck
Bob Ottum
October 02, 1967
By winning in Canada two unlikely New Zealanders named Bruce McLaren and Denis Hulme, racing sports cars built by McLaren and powered with Chevy hot-rod engines, continued their runaway in the rich Can-Am series
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October 02, 1967

The Bruce And Denny Show Makes A Fast Buck

By winning in Canada two unlikely New Zealanders named Bruce McLaren and Denis Hulme, racing sports cars built by McLaren and powered with Chevy hot-rod engines, continued their runaway in the rich Can-Am series

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The monster that emerged is perhaps the fastest sports car in the world. Officially it is a McLaren M-6-A, or McLaren-Chevrolet.

"It is really a blend of New Zealand's McLaren and American hot-rodding," Bruce said. "The engine heads and castings are Chevrolet; everything else is adapted, all from American hot-rod parts.

"We even have," he said with the faintest trace of a smile, " Mickey Thompson manifolds on these engines."

The result is a winner that would be, says McLaren, "quite comfortable on the streets—although it does go a bit fast for that sort of thing and gets only 4� miles to the gallon of gas." As a final thrust at the competition, the cars have, on the rocker-arm covers, small pink nameplates saying "Flower Power."

"We thought it was a nice touch," said McLaren.

But if McLaren and Hulme caught the rest of the sports car world with cars not nearly as good, they at least caught the best of them. The Canadian track was crawling with them—from America's international star, Gurney, to such swift ones as Mike Spence and John Surtees of Grand Prix fame; Ludovico Scarfiotti, famous enough to be fired by Ferrari; and Mark Donohue, who is considered the brightest comer of all the young U.S. drivers.

Further competition, such as it was, came from the hard, realistic world of track racing. There was Andretti, the national driving champion. On Friday, while Mario was standing at trackside looking broodingly at his lavender Ford, another Indy man came mincing up and said, "I thay there, dahling, how is youah motor cah?" It was, of course, Roger McCluskey, who can't quite get over the notion that road racing is unbearably effete.

But nobody was out-toughing Flower Power. Hulme qualified his car first on the starting grid, McLaren alongside. Gurney took the third spot in a Lola-Ford, and the rest of the notables came along behind. McCluskey had made it only to the 11th starting position, and at the very end of the lineup was Andretti. He was wise enough to throw a blanket over all that lavender and watch the race from the press trailer.

McLaren had discovered a leaky fuel cell just before post time. By the time he had replaced it and was parked at the gas tank saying, "fill 'er up," the race was starting. He screeched out 55 seconds behind the leader, and then—in a race within a race—chewed up the entire non-Kiwi balance of the field. By midpoint Hulme was running calmly in front, Gurney was hanging on in second, and back there somewhere McLaren was gaining almost 1� seconds a lap on them—roaring along, steering easily with one hand and waving the other one steadily at the cars in front of him to get the hell out of the way. They all did, and when McLaren pulled up behind Gurney on lap 67, it was all over. The McLaren Chevy screamed past him in a burst of hot orange and green, and Gurney, who intensely dislikes being passed, gave vigorous chase. Two laps later his clutch collapsed.

Then, about the time Canada's evening chill was closing in, came the final shot of drama. With 1� laps to go, Hulme was supposed to be playing cool, but he hates that sort of thing and was screaming down the back straight at 168 miles an hour. He would have been going faster, but "I had been having trouble with the steering for the last several laps." ("Have you seen the forearms on that guy?" said McLaren. "He absolutely cranks that car into turns with one mighty move. When I first gave him the car he took one look at the gearshift and said, 'You'd better strengthen that thing or I'll have it out by the bloody roots.' ")

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