Bruce McLaren, motorsport legend and founder of the renowned racing and supercar company that still bears his name, has been recognised with a posthumous honorary Doctor of Engineering degree from the University of Auckland. This comes as McLaren marks 60 years since he founded the company.
The late engineer, innovator and racing driver was honoured for his contributions to engineering in a ceremony at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, England. His daughter, Amanda McLaren, accepted the award on his behalf.
After completing the first year of his Bachelor of Engineering degree at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, Bruce was the first recipient of the New Zealand International Grand Prix Association’s Driver to Europe Scholarship. In 1959, at the age of 22, he became the youngest winner of a Formula 1 World Championship grand prix, a record that remained unbroken for 44 years.
Four years later, he established Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd, initially designing, building and racing cars in the Tasman Series in Australia and his native New Zealand.
With Kiwi teammate Denny Hulme, Bruce dominated the North American Can-Am Championship series from 1966-1970. On June 2 1970, the pioneering racing driver and engineer tragically lost his life at the age of 32 while testing one of his Can-Am racing cars at Goodwood Motor Circuit in West Sussex, England.
From its beginnings as Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd, McLaren has evolved into one of the world’s most admired racing and automotive brands. The McLaren of today is a validation of Bruce’s vision, as a producer of lightweight, carbon fibre constructed supercars and a pioneering racing team competing around the world in Formula 1, IndyCar, Formula E, Extreme E and esports.
The Doctor of Engineering degree for Bruce McLaren is one of four posthumous honorary doctorates being conferred as part of the University of Auckland’s 140th anniversary celebrations.
The University of Auckland is also planning to establish an engineering research centre to honour and build on Bruce’s legacy. The proposed Bruce McLaren Centre for High Performance Engineering will empower future generations of Kiwi engineering excellence, and focus on integrating high performance materials, advanced manufacturing and innovative design to meet the world’s need for a prosperous and sustainable future.
“Bruce McLaren was a pioneer. We’re pleased to award him with an honorary doctorate to celebrate his achievements as an engineer, as well as his contributions to the motorsport and engineering community.”
Professor Dawn Freshwater, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Auckland, New Zealand
“It’s a privilege to have my father’s achievements honoured with a doctorate from the University of Auckland, the place of study where he furthered his passion for engineering. I know dad would be so impressed with the engineering advancements seen in the industry today, and especially in the supercars and racing cars that bear his name.”
Amanda McLaren, Bruce’s Daughter and Trustee of Bruce McLaren Trust
The University of Auckland maintains strong links with McLaren through the annual Bruce McLaren engineering scholarships, donor-supported awards that give Faculty of Engineering students the opportunity to spend three months interning at the supercar company, and which have recently expanded to include the Racing team.
The scholarship can play a significant role in helping students get on the road to success. Former Bruce McLaren engineering scholar and University alumna, Lizzy Grant, now works for the company developing battery technology for its electrified powertrains.