McLaren hasn’t won a Grand Prix for six years. Vandoorne was a lap down in twelfth and Alonso didn’t finish at Monza. In 1968 Denny Hulme’s McLaren won Monza from the excitable Johnny Servoz-Gavin in a Ken Tyrrell Matra-Ford and Jcky Ickx in a Ferrari. McLarens were nearly first and second but Bruce’s car failed half way through. They managed it a fortnight later in the Canadian Grand Prix at St Jovite.
This was the year Bruce McLaren first won in his own new McLaren car, at Spa. My race report (below) is a 50th anniversary tribute to one of motor racing’s best men. Approachable, genuine, plain-speaking and talented, he had that rare trait in a racing driver of modesty. Not false modesty; he just got on well with people and was such a safe smooth driver that, like Jim Clark, you never thought he would die in a racing car.
I covered Spa for The Guardian. Grand Prix motor racing had never been big in national newspapers, unless there had been an accident, and it was covered feebly on television. The Guardian had a big student readership and to its great credit led the way. Sports Editor John Samuel thought Adam Raphael then motoring correspondent should do it but Adam was more ambitious than that. Barrie Gill of The Sun suggested hiring me. The dear old Grauniad was being put together in Gray’s Inn Road and relied heavily for cash on The Manchester Evening News. It was 1966. Manchester was dropped from its title in 1959 and the editor only moved to London two years before. Always reluctant to award by-lines until convinced Our Special Correspondents knew what they were talking about.