Recently, one of our readers asked for a post about Bruce McLaren, so here he is.
This photo was taken as McLaren pulled up in front of the Royal Box, celebrating his victory in the Monaco Grand Prix which took place on June 3, 1962. McLaren was driving a Cooper 60 powered by a 1.5 liter Coventry Climax V8.
Monaco was never an easy race to join in those years. In 1962 there were 23 entries of which only 10 were guaranteed a starting spot. There were two cars from each of the five manufacturers: Lotus, BRM, Cooper, Ferrari and Porsche. So the remainder would have to qualify for the six remaining positions because Monaco then only allowed 16 starters. Of the 13 required qualifiers two did not show up and five others failed to make the field.
After practice, Jim Clark was on pole in the lone new Lotus 25 with Graham Hill’s BRM 57 in the middle of the front row, and McLaren on the outside. But “Wild Willy” Mairesse was in the third Ferrari and qualified himself into the second row, so fireworks at the start, which was then on the harbor front heading down to the old Gasworks Hairpin, were almost guaranteed.
And so it was. Mairesse charged between Clark and Graham Hill at the start but slid straight on at the Hairpin which caused a series of collisions at the back of the field, so Richie Ginther (BRM), Dan Gurney (Porsche) and Maurice Trintignant (Lotus 24) were out immediately.
McLaren took the lead after the Mairesse problem but soon gave way to Graham Hill. Clark was working his way forward and took second until he was forced to retire shortly after half distance with gearshift problems. Hill then led from McLaren and it looked like a done deal until the BRM’s engine failed on lap 93 which gave McLaren the lead. But the other Hill, Phil, with his Ferrari 156F1 was now catching the Cooper by a lot and looked like he would be very close at the finish.
With one lap to go Hill was five seconds down on McLaren and a very nervous John Cooper, at left, signaled the margin to his driver as the cars came by. But McLaren held on to win by 3.3 seconds after 100 laps and two hours 46 seconds of this exhausting race.
Photos by Robert Daley ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com
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