Monday, July 18, 2011

1969 McLaren M6GT

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The McLaren M6A was a racing car developed by driver Bruce McLaren and his Bruce McLaren Motor Racing team for their entry in 1967 Can-Am season. As a replacement for the team's M1Bs from 1966, the Chevrolet-powered McLaren M6A's improved design earned Bruce McLaren and his team their first of multiple Can-Am championships. 


After the McLaren M6A were replaced by the M8A in preparation for 1968, McLaren and technical partner Trojan developed the M6B which was sold to customers for use in Can-Am as well as other racing series.

The M6 name was later used in the development of a closed-cockpit sports car for the 24 Hours of Le Mans and known as the M6GT. The company's plan to homologate it for the FIA's Group 4 regulations was however never completed, and only a few M6GT prototypes were finished by McLaren and Trojan. Two M6GTs were later converted to road cars, one of which became Bruce McLaren's personal transport.

Bruce McLaren gathered several designers to develop the McLaren M6A during the off-season in early 1967. Along with McLaren himself, Robin Herd, Gordon Coppuck, Tyler Alexander, and Don Beresford all worked on the layout of the McLaren M6A's chassis and bodywork. 

The car featured the first monocoque chassis constructed by McLaren, while the bodywork was specifically shaped to increase downforce suited for the Can-Am circuits. McLaren's team also expanded into engine development, creating a fuel injection system for their Chevrolet V8s. Another addition to the team was a new tire supplier, with Goodyear replacing Firestone in exchange for a testing and development program.

Racing history
The 1967 Can-Am season began in September at Road America. Bruce McLaren's M6A qualified on pole position with a new track record, while teammate Denny Hulme's car led once the race began. Although McLaren's car suffered an oil leak and failed to finish, Hulme was able to earn the car's first victory.

The next two events had the team running away from the opposition, with Hulme and McLaren finishing first and second consecutively. The roles were however swapped over the next two races as it was McLaren who won on both occasions, but problems with Hulme's car allowed McLaren to take the lead in the points standings going into the final round. 

For the finale at the Stardust Grand Prix, problems with the Chevrolet motors led to blown engines and neither car reaching the finish. However, with their performance over the season, Bruce McLaren secured the 1967 Can-Am Challenge Cup, while Hulme was ranked second only three points behind.

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