McLaren ’50 in 50′: The McLaren Group

While it all started from Bruce McLaren’s vision and his racing team, the McLaren Group has evolved over the years. The description on its website reads:

“McLaren Group encompasses an exciting range of high-technology businesses whose rapid growth is built on the shared principles of innovation, creativity and commitment to excellence.”

The group is based within the McLaren Technology Centre, which officially opened in 2004 and Ron Dennis is its Executive Chairman. It comprises six companies which are:

  • McLaren Racing
  • McLaren Automotive
  • McLaren Applied Technologies
  • McLaren GT3 Racing
  • McLaren Electronics
  • Absolute Taste

We have already considered McLaren Racing in great depth, and will continue to do so, so here is a brief look at the other five companies.

McLaren Automotive

When Bruce McLaren started his racing team, he was also committed to producing a racing car for the road, following their success in the Can-Am series. McLaren’s first road car, the McLaren M6 GT, was produced in-house at Bruce McLaren’s factory in the mid 60s. Only one prototype was created and it featured a 5.7 litre Ford engine producing around 370bhp. The prototype went from 0 to 100mp in eight seconds and reached a speed of over 165mph.

In 1989, McLaren Cars was established. At the time, McLaren still did not have the facilites to create road cars, but a small group of engineers applied original thinking and drew on the McLaren Group’s technical abilites. Their first, and one of their most iconic developments was the McLaren F1. It is defined by many as being the definitive sports car. In 1981, McLaren had become the first Formula One team to create an all carbon chassis, and they used this philosophy in the creation of the McLaren F1. It was launched in 1994, costing £540,000.

Over the years McLaren have also produced the MP4-12C, the McLaren P1 and the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren.

McLaren Applied Technologies

McLaren Applied Technologies was formed in 2004. It involves McLaren making use of their knowledge and ‘know-how’ to develop groundbreaking solutions across sport, medicine and entertainment. McLaren Applied Technologies focuses on four core groups and these are health & wellness, sport, energy and automotive.

McLaren Applied Technologies were recently involved in the 2012 London Olympics. They developed a wireless system that helped rowers and cyclists during the game. It measured the relationship between paddle, boat and athlete as well as storing data and telemetry information for cyclists.

McLaren GT3 Racing

Outside of Formula One, McLaren have a rich racing history in the likes of Le Mans. Back in 1995, the McLaren F1 GTR won Le Mans on its debut.At the end of 2010, McLaren confirmed plans to bring back the team name to GT sports car racing, joining forces with CRS Racing to provide customer cars. The cars they proposed to race were based on the McLaren MP4-12C road car. The car completed its first tests in March 2011 and Álvaro Parente was confirmed as the first driver to be signed to race for the team. Later Rob Bell and Alexander Sims were included in the line-up. In 2012 the team announced its full race schedule which saw 25 MP4-12C GT3 cars competing across Europe and in the FIA GT1 World Championship.

McLaren Electronics  

McLaren Electronic Systems was created in 1989 to produce high-end electronics, bespoke race telemetry and sensor equipment for teams and championships across Europe and North America. This includes Formula One, NASCAR and Indy Car. It is not just racing, however, that McLaren Electronics provides control systems, real-time data systems, and telemetry for. It also works across the automotive, aerospace and defence, railway, and machine-to-machine markets.

Since 2008, McLaren Electronics have provided a standard ECU to all teams competing in Formula One. They are the FIA’s official suppliers. They have also provided the same device for NASCAR since 2012 as well as Indycar. These systems are capable of controlling the engine, gearbox and chassis of a modern race car and provide data logging and telemetry.

Absolute Taste

Absolute Taste have been providing fresh food and VIP hospitality for the McLaren team since 1997, right from pre-season testing, through each and every race weekend on the Formula One calendar. It was formed by Ron Dennis and Lyndy Redding, who is the Managing Director.

While travelling around the world, Absolute Taste embrace local suppliers and cuisine.  They offer a bespoke catering and hospitality service to high-end customers around the world. Absolute Taste have developed a reputation of innovation and providing what they describe as ‘fabulous food’. Absolute Taste have a number of cafes and restaurants situated in places such as Mercedes-Benz World.

Tomorrow’s ’50 in 50′ post will look at McLaren’s first world champion, Emerson Fittipaldi.

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