When the invitation came through to review the motor documentary MCLAREN, about the New Zealander who became a god like figure in the motorsport world, there was only one Kernel worthy of reviewing this. Kernel Blake once tried his hand and motor racing. And now he is a luxury car photographer who actually asked if he could borrow the work McLaren to drive to the screening. When he also learned the media screening for this movie was on the anniversary of McLaren’s passing tears were shed. This is the single most passionate review Blake has reviewed and also the only movie he has awarded a perfect 5 Pops. 

MCLAREN is releasing for special screenings across the country for a few days only. It is playing at most of the major cinemas as well as the independents. Dates are at the bottom, check your local cinemas for times. It is releasing from Transmission Films, is rated PG and runs for 93mins. Enjoy Blake’s manifesto of gush……..all the best……..JK.


McLaren. A name synonymous with motor racing and the world of supercars. The British company behind Ferrari is the longest running and most successful Formula 1 team of all time. But what if I told you this British car company isn’t actually British at all and was, in fact, started by a humble Kiwi named Bruce?

MCLAREN is the new documentary from Australian director Roger Donaldson (COCKTAIL, THE WORLDS FASTEST INDIAN). Detailing the life of Bruce McLaren, a young man from New Zealand, who defied the odds and revolutionised motor sport as we know it.


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Using home video, family photographs and re-enactments, MCLAREN begins with a young Bruce growing up in Auckland in the early 1940s, tinkering on cars at his dad’s service station. His passion for all things automotive was only dampened by a chronic condition known as Perthes disease, making one of his legs shorter than the other.

Strapped to a bed for months at a time with weights attached to his legs, Bruce never stopped drawing, designing or tinkering on cars. When McLaren was able to walk again he began to race and quickly showed that he was a young man of incredible talent.

Securing a scholarship to race with the famed John Cooper Racing Team in Europe, the same John Cooper whose name is associated with Mini, McLaren was partnered with Australian racing legend Sir Jack Brabham and immediately made an impact on the racing world. In an F2 event staged at the infamous “Green Hell,” at Germany’s Nurburgring, McLaren finished fifth overall in a field that contained both F2 and F1 cars, besting drivers in far superior cars.


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Moving through the ranks and eventually cracking the lucrative world of Formula 1, Bruce became the youngest ever winner of an F1 race, taking out the 1959 USA GP at just twenty two years of age. A record that would stand for forty four years. He would finish 2nd overall to teammate Brabham in just his second season in 1960 and go on to win the ‘jewel in the F1 crown,’ the Monaco GP in 1962.

Not content with winning races for someone else, Bruce dreamed of having his own racing team and Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd was born in 1963. Fifty four years later, that same racing team continues as McLaren-Honda in the current F1 calendar. More records were broken as Bruce became just the 2nd man in history to win an F1 race driving for his own team, in a car he had designed, by winning the 1968 Belgian GP at Spa Francorchamps.


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With a small team of fellow Kiwi motoring enthusiasts, Bruce branched out and tried to conquer the USA racing scene. Designing, entering and almost inevitably winning the CanAm Sportscar series thanks to his ingenuity and engineering expertise. A rare talent, after just one season racing, more than half of all entrants for the next year were racing in cars designed by the now famed McLaren company.

Success after success continued for Bruce and his team both in the US and Europe. As a driver, he continued to win races and his nonstop work ethic as designer and team manager pushed the team into further successful feats. With a new family, Bruce seemingly had it all. Then, on a testing day at Goodwood Raceway in 1970, the world suddenly lost a once-in-a-generation legend. McLaren, going out for one more lap in a prototype CanAm car, lost control and crashed into a marshal’s post that had been scheduled for demolition weeks before. He was killed instantly.


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Donaldson has crafted a touching, insightful and heartfelt look at the life of one of New Zealand’s unsung heroes. From the early days racing around the New Zealand countryside to the glitz and glamour of the F1 circuit of the 60s & 70s. We get an incredible insight into the man and legend that was Bruce McLaren.

From interviews with his crew, teammates, rivals and wife Patty, we get to see what kind of a man Bruce really was. A workaholic that expected nothing but perfection from his team. He was also a loving family man that loved a joke and was liked by all. Thanks to his movie star good looks, looking like a young Liam Neeson, and his undeniable talent behind the wheel or with a spanner, Bruce McLaren was one of those special talents that comes along once in a lifetime.

The old racing footage included in the film takes you back to the golden age of racing, where F1 drivers were all close mates that would holiday together, something that seems a ridiculous concept in today’s high stakes championship. It also doesn’t shy away from the inherent danger faced by drivers back then, with a few deaths each season taken as an inevitability.


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I admit that if you aren’t into motorsport, you may not enjoy the film as much as I did. Personally, Bruce was a hero of mine and an inspiration in my short-lived motorsport career and now as an automotive photographer that is lucky enough to shoot the latest creations bearing his name. But overall, this is an incredible story of a truly gifted individual, a love letter to a man that would not be held back by anything, be it medical conditions or monetary constraints.

Much like the incredible SENNA documentary from a few years back, McLAREN in an inspiring look at an amazing talent that was taken from us too soon and the legacy that each man left the world. McLAREN is exciting, interesting and incredibly emotional, hearing from the people that knew him best and those that were there on that fateful day in 1970. The fact that this screening was shown on the anniversary of his death really hit hard and I admit to shedding a tear at the loss of this great man.

Petrol heads will love MCLAREN and those that aren’t into racing should still check it out, there is plenty to enjoy in this well-crafted tale of a Kiwi named Bruce who changed the world. Now if only the current McLaren F1 team could take a leaf out of his book and get back in to the winner’s circle!



June 21 (VIC, TAS), June 22 (NSW, ACT, SA, WA, NT), June 24–25 (National).





Kernel Blake is a part-time beard bandit, philanthropist, industrialist….bicyclist…photographer, world traveller, movie lover, a man of few words who enjoys the finer things in life. Like reciting Snake Plissken quotes. And when all that fails, heads out to a racetrack to do skids. He can be found twatting @bcurrall80 and hipstergramming @bcurrall80

** All images courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor/publisher – credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.


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