In January and February 1957 (summertime in the sourthern hemisphere) Australian Jack Brabham raced a 1.5-litre, bob-tailed, centre-seat Cooper in New Zealand. A month later Bruce’s father ‘Pop’ McLaren bought the car. The names McLaren and Brabham kept in touch all that year eventually agreeing on a deal for the 1958 season. Jack Brabham would bring to New Zealand, a pair of single seat Coopers which he and Bruce would race. Success was immediate. At their first race, the New Zealand Grand Prix at Ardmore in January 1958, Bruce finished second behind Brabham and was awarded the New Zealand International Grand Prix Association’s “Driver to Europe” Scholarship. The award launched his career. Bruce left for Europe to race with the Cooper Team. In the European summer of 1958, he began racing Formula One and Formula Two cars for Cooper Racing team. At the end of the 1959 Formula One season he had his first Grand Prix win at Sebring in the United States. At 22 he was the youngest driver ever to win a Grande Epreuve. His record stood until the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2003.
Bruce McLaren Motor Racing was formed late August 1963 to compete in the 1964 Tasman Series down-under, whilst Bruce continued as a works driver for the Cooper organisation until the end of 1965, when he left to enter his own Formula 1 car in the 1966 world championship.
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