Everything about the film is poignant, not least that we watch it at Hound Lodge on the Goodwood estate, just down the road from the circuit where Bruce McLaren died at the age of 32. The true story of this extraordinary film, however, is just how much McLaren crammed into such a short time. You have to keep reminding yourself, as the story progresses through his time at Cooper then in F1 followed by Can-Am, that for most of it he still hadn't hit 30.
The film, with its mash-up of grainy original footage, recreation of key moments using actors, cartoon elements and even footage from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid to illustrate pivotal events, is in many ways the anatomy of the perfect racing driver. Here was a man who could design, engineer, build, race and sell his own cars, with overwhelming success. No one has matched his Formula 1 victory at the Belgian Grand Prix in 1968, when, as a racing driver, he won a major grand prix in a car of his own design, with his name on the nose.
There are of course the obligatory interviews with Emerson Fittipaldi, Dan Gurney, Jackie Stewart and Mario Andretti, who all confirm that Bruce McLaren was a superstar. But it's when the film looks closely at the mechanics and designers behind the cars that we get an intimate look at the man Bruce McLaren was.
And behind all that the badge stands for lies the passion of one man. The epitaph he penned for his teammate Timmy Mayer is well known but worth repeating. "The news that he had died instantly was a terrible shock to all of us, but who is to say that he had not seen more, done more and learned more in his few years than many people do in a lifetime? To do something well is so worthwhile that to die trying to do it better cannot be foolhardy. It would be a waste of life to do nothing with one's ability, for I feel that life is measured in achievement, not in years alone."
Watch the trailer here
[Images: LAT Photo]