Racing has always been the crucible on which greatness is forged in the automotive world. In the case of this year’s Automotive Brand of the Year, it built an entire company. McLaren began with its namesake, Bruce McLaren, a New Zealander who grew up in the shadow of his father’s automotive racing hobby. In 1952 Bruce competed in his first hillclimb, and by 1957 was a contender for the country wide racing championship.
With Bruce as chief driver and early leader, McLaren racing started off strong, creating cars of its own design and dominating series like Can Am with Bruce behind the wheel. After Bruce’s death in 1970, McLaren continued, going on to win 8 Constructors championships in Formula 1, along with 56 Can Am series wins, making the team one of the most successful in racing history. In order to build passenger cars, McLaren Automotive was started in the 80’s after a merger with Project 4 Racing. Taking the racing knowledge and pedigree formed over decades to the street, the first McLaren production car, the F1, was released in 1992. Costing $1 million dollars and featuring the first ever use of carbon fiber in a road car, plus gold heat wrap, a center mounted seat, and a Mercedes v12, the F1 stood as the pinnacle of supercars for the time.
In 2010, McLaren parted with Mercedes to become a standalone manufacturer for the first time. With a wider range of supercars than ever, inlcuding the 900hp Hybrid P1, McLaren continues a legacy of racing success and innovation.