The racing world in Britain and America is mourning the loss of a major figure this week – Teddy Mayer, the man who co-founded McLaren and who took the team to an iconic F1 world championship and Indy 500 double.
Edward Everett Mayer, who died aged 73, was an American racing entrepreneur who worked alongside Bruce McLaren to create the team in 1963. He assumed full control on McLaren’s death in 1970 and continued to run it until handing over to Ron Dennis in 1982.
His was the hand on the tiller in 1974 when Emerson Fittipaldi took the drivers’ title for McLaren and helped the team to the constructors’ crown.
In 1976 he oversaw James Hunt’s victorious F1 world championship campaign. In the same year driver Johnny Rutherford took victory in the Indianapolis 500 for the team.
In 1985 he made a return to F1 in a partnership with Carl Haas and Alexander but team owner Roger Penske convinced him to return to CART competition and the Indy 500.
He became vice president of Penske’s racing operation and the team went on to earn a series of Indy 500 victories and series titles throughout the 1990s. He remained with the team in a consultative role as recently as 2007.
Roger Penske said: “Auto racing has lost one of its true pioneers. Teddy Mayer was a dear friend, and he brought tremendous vision to the management and operation of championship racing teams.
“He was a driving force behind the McLaren team’s success in Formula One and he, of course, was a key part of our winning teams at Penske Racing throughout the 1990s. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mayer family at this difficult time.”
Ron Dennis has also paid tribute: “Teddy was one of motor racing’s few truly great men. As far as I and all at McLaren are concerned he has particular importance, on account of the fact that in 1963 he was part of the very small team of talented enthusiasts who, alongside Bruce McLaren, founded Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd.
â€œBruce died tragically young in 1970, having won grands prix but no world championships with his fledgling team, but when I bought into the team in 1980 Teddy had built on the foundations laid by Bruce, Tyler Alexander and himself and had already achieved a lot — two Formula 1 world championships with Emerson Fittipaldi and James Hunt, as well as huge success in the States.”
He said the McLaren Technology centre in Woking still had a visible memorial to Mayer’s work in the shape of the McLaren CanAm, CART and M23 Formula 1 cars that are on display in its reception area.
“In 1982 Teddy sold his shares in McLaren, and I’m glad to say we’ve continued to be successful and to win world championships, ever since. But the origins of our many and ongoing successes are with Bruce and Teddy.
“So I would like to pay tribute to Teddy’s enormously valuable contribution, and to his immortal legacy, and to extend the sympathies of all at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes to his family and many friends at this very sad time.”
Mayer is survived by a son, Tim, and a daughter, Anne. Tim is chief operating officer of the American Le Mans Series.