Shelby McLaren and Bruce McLaren Le Mans '66

Bruce McLaren, Ford GT40 Mk II, Ken Miles, Le Mans 1966 -

Shelby McLaren and Bruce McLaren Le Mans '66

Both Shelby and Bruce McLaren were certain they shared some Scottish Highland kinship but it wasn’t just sharing a clan affiliation that bonded the pair, it was their overwhelming passion for Motorsport.

Shelby travelled a lot for work but he didn’t mind because a return to Heathrow Airport always meant a trip to the nearby workshop of McLaren Motor Racing. Turning into David Road in Colnbrook was always fraught with danger because the mechanics would often test the cars in the street and it wasn’t unusual to be met with a McLaren M2 hurtling along at 120 miles an hour powered by a screaming Ford V8. 

Bruce and Shelby often had long conversations and a recurring theme that deeply frustrated Bruce was the constant difficulty in finding the balance between business and sport. Bruce felt that business should be forgotten once the car was on the track and that sport should always be the deciding factor in the racing. On numerous occasions he had felt that the business part of motorsport had too much impact on the outcome at the chequered flag and that had been a pivotal issue in Bruce’s motivation to found his own team.

Shelby was at Le Mans in 1965 when Bruce partnered with Ken Miles in the Ford GT40 and he had felt the pain for the ‘business’ side of things when all the Fords barely lasted three hours into the race. It was a disaster for Ford and the focus was then very much on ‘motorbusiness’ not ‘motorsport’. There is no doubt that these considerations played out the following year at Le Mans. 

In 1966 Shelby was with Bruce McLaren at Le Mans and the determination to not only challenge the Ferrari’s but to beat them was at the absolute forefront of everything Bruce had been working towards with Ford. Unfortunately, Bruce would go on to be quoted: “I didn’t think ten minutes of politics could win a 24-hour race - but there you are.”

The attempt at a ‘staged’ finish was the ultimate in ‘Business’ being on the race track and the impending fall-out was bitter and enduring. It was a victory for Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon and definitely a victory for Ford but it also left Shelby with an enduring scepticism as to how much sport there was in ‘motorsport’.

The Box set, the twin-pack, the Presentation Range and the Limited Edition cars have all been a way for slot car manufacturers to offer something unique. Undoubtedly, this came about as slot cars became a ‘collectible’ item and not so much a toy. As the detail and sophistication of the cars increased so did the desire to collect them for their aesthetic attraction rather than their functional purpose. Scalextric understood this attraction and began to produce special cars that were clearly headed for the shelf rather than the race track. An excellent example is our set today from 2003. The three Le Mans winning cars from 1966, the Ford GT40 Mk II’s, Scalextric catalogue number C2529A. Do you have this set? See more on our Facebook page: ScaleXseller Slot Cars and Track


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