McLaren ’50 in 50′: Teddy Mayer

Following Bruce McLaren’s death in 1970, Teddy Mayer took the reigns of the McLaren team. He was in charge when the team won their first constructors’ championship and drivers’ championship with Emerson Fittipaldi. Between 1972 and 1977 (inclusive) the team featured at the sharp end of the championship with James Hunt winning the drivers’ championship in 1976.

Born in 1935, Teddy Mayer originally studied law. He got involved with motorsport through his younger brother Timmy, who was a racer. In the early 60s, Teddy ran Rev-Em, a Formula Junior team, with future McLaren driver Peter Revson. Revson and Timmy were two of the drivers and the team proved to be successful, winning 15 of 16 races.

Following Timmy’s death in 1964, while driving for Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Team, Teddy gave up his career as a lawyer and joined Bruce McLaren in establishing his team, offering both financial and managerial assistance. When Bruce tragically died in 1970, Teddy stood up to the helm and became Team Principal for the next decade.

As mentioned above, he was behind a successful era for McLaren in the 70s. It was he who enticed Fittipaldi and Hunt to join the team. McLaren also continued to be successful outside of Formula One, racing in the Can-Am series and Indy car. After a dip in form for the team, however, Teddy left them in 1982, selling his shares. According to Ron Dennis, who took over the role of Team Prinicpal for McLaren in 1980, “Teddy was one of motor racing’s few truly great men.”

“As far as I and all at McLaren are concerned, he has particular importance, on account of the fact that in 1963 he was part of the very small team of talented enthusiasts who, alongside Bruce McLaren, founded Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd.”

Despite leaving McLaren and Formula One, Teddy remained very involved in racing. He moved to work in CART before returning to Formula One in 1986, co-founding Haas Lola with Carl Haas. In the 90s he became Vice-Chairman of Penske’s motorsport operations. He remained a part of Penske, moving to a consultancy role, until 2007.

Sadly, in 2009, Teddy Mayer died. He played a crucial role in the start-up of McLaren and developing them to become the iconic and successful team they are today.

Tomorrow’s post will look at the formidable Ron Dennis, Teddy Mayer’s successor to the role of Team Principal at the McLaren racing team, and founder of the McLaren Group.


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