The McLaren team will celebrate the last race of one of its most loyal employees this weekend at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza and a tribute will be paid to him on the car with a special message.
Ray ‘Tex’ Rowe is the longest serving employee of the McLaren team and has joined the team Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd for the first time on April 1, 1965. He will therefore be leaving his post [gearbox shop] and the McLaren team this year after 55 years of service and a well-deserved retirement.
At the time, McLaren had not yet built his first Formula 1 car until his Grand Prix debut in 1966 – it immediately became one of the priorities of the young Ray who had just joined McLaren.
“I still remember my first day at McLaren. " explains Ray Rowe, who is called Tex internally.
“We were getting ready for Formula 1 and building our first Grand Prix car. That was our main project: the chassis started out as a test car, and everything was done in secret, and was still in the preparatory phase when I arrived. "
“Robin Herd was the lead designer, and Eddie Strait had joined us from Cooper – he was in the design office. "
“I worked on the mill while we were preparing the prototype. I remember Bruce [McLaren] coming up with a new design for the brake calipers, and I had to make a few modifications, making them wider to fit the rotors. "
“Those days in the garage were my favorite times with the team – we all worked together in one unit, and we had to do it all. It's not like today, where everything is more specialized. "
the most difficult moment for the young employee came in the summer of 1970, when Bruce McLaren was killed in a test crash at Goodwood. For many it was unthinkable that the team could continue without its kingpin, but Ray Rowe remembers the dark stoicism that kept the team together during those darkest days.
“Bruce just knew how it all worked; he got to try different things with the cars because he knew from driving them what the changes brought. "
“There is still no substitute for feeling – and a computer can't make you feel like that. "
“When Bruce died, I don't think there was even a single question mark – no one mentioned anything, we just kept going. "
“We knew Denny [Hulme] – who had an accident at Indy – was doing badly, but I don't think he even mentioned anything either. We didn't have to talk about it – we just kept going and we got it right. "
Finally, when asked for some advice for any newcomer looking to potentially start a half-century career at McLaren, he reminds us that despite more than 50 years of progress, the prospects for the company remain remarkably strong. similar to the day it started.
“This company is unique – and always has been. It takes good management to get everyone to work together; but, more importantly, it is entirely up to the individual – it is the people and their attitude to working together that drives this business forward. "