Experienced by Kimatni Rawlins
It was an enlightening week in Monterey, CA with British motorsports manufacturer McLaren Automotive, which utilizes artistic vision to hand-craft luxury, high-performance supercars for aficionados to prophesize. Celebrating 60 years of racing heritage during Monterey Car Week 2023, McLaren honored its memorable past while accelerating into a progressive future with exciting activations such as an owner’s rally, test drives of various supercars from the 765LT to the Artura, a Pebble Beach VIP reception, and the highly-anticipated reveal of the McLaren Solus GT racecar at The Quail. Brilliant, as McLaren continues to embrace elegance in the most formidable fashion.
McLaren’s Ornate History and Background
Founded by engineer and race car driver Bruce McLaren, who won his first major race at just 22 years of age — the 1959 US Grand Prix — McLaren has modeled its current production vehicles from the DNA and formula of its storied race cars of the past including the first true McLaren sports car — the M1A — built in 1964. From 1967 to 1971 Bruce and team won 37 of the 43 races in the Can-Am series, three times more than its next competitor Porsche. Papaya Orange livery was Bruce’s trademark and lives on as McLaren Orange. McLaren would win 12 F1 World Championships with elite drivers Emerson Fittipaldi, James Hunt, Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Mika Häkkinen, and Lewis Hamilton.
Racing legend and Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna was so prolific behind the wheel that the current McLaren Senna was conceived in his honor. His charismatic persona and legacy continue to resonate with the British automaker and its fans, and partly why Ayrton’s nephew Bruno Senna is a McLaren brand ambassador.
Today, every vehicle is hand-built with a carbon-fiber monocoque at the McLaren Production Centre in Woking, Surrey, England, I visited some years back. McLaren also builds upon its success with stellar partners like Bowers & Wilkins, Dell Technologies, Gulf, Pirelli, and Tumi. In fact, I strolled into town with my black and orange Tumi McLaren 3-piece luggage set to ascertain I fit the tone of the celebratory occasion. Completing the Monterey Car Week formula, I was blessed with the keys to a 2023 Artura in Silica White to experience McLaren’s electrified future since the all-new high-performance hybrid supercar features an e-motor.
McLaren Owner’s Rally
I sat down to dine at Montrio with good friend Nicolas Brown, who currently reigns as McLaren President of the Americas, to discuss the company’s future, product potential, and camaraderie from within the organization. To award McLaren loyalists, the marketing department has organized an owner’s rally for the last seven years, logistically structured to include vehicle shipping, flights, luxury hotel stays, impressive culinary selections, and event entry. This year the group departed with Nicolas and Andy Thomas, McLaren VP of Marketing & Communications, from Beverly Hills for a therapeutic drive up the Pacific Coast Highway en route to Monterey to attend the festivities. They have previously congregated in Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, and Napa Valley. Monterey Car Week can be difficult for owners to arrange correctly, so McLaren created the experience on their behalf. Space is typically reserved for 25 McLaren supercars, whether a 750S or 600LT Spider. Additionally, the cohort met and spent time with the delightful Amanda McLaren, Bruce McLaren’s only child.
Pebble Beach Owner’s Reception
Another highlight was reveling in McLaren’s 60th Anniversary celebration at an exclusive VIP owner’s reception in Pebble Beach. The festivities were hosted at a newly built mansion featuring multiple platforms and driveways to display the heritage racing vehicles and the most intriguing owner rides. Some showed off original hues, and some supercars were wrapped in vibrant melodies. The evening included a DJ spinning from the second-floor rear balcony, fine wine from Amulet Estate in Napa Valley, a poolside firepit, comforting quarters inside the stately house, and profound networking.
2024 McLaren Solus GT Illuminates at The Quail
With only 25 examples of the custom McLaren Solus GT racecar commissioned, Chief Executive Officer Michael Leiters unleashed the single-seat, closed-cockpit track car at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, the most exquisite and pompous showcase during Monterey Car Week. The show allows luxury and performance automakers to highlight their automotive gems through displays and press conferences. Driven by millions of fans in Gran Turismo SPORT in the form of the McLaren Ultimate Vision GT, the Solus GT’s muscular carbon-fiber monocoque competes in the 2,205-pound weight division. It receives power from a 10,000-rpm revving, naturally aspirated 5.2-liter V10 engine pushing out 829-horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque for thrilling driver engagement and extreme F1-akin performance.
“The McLaren Solus GT is the realization of a radical McLaren concept vehicle originally created for the world of virtual racing,” stated Michael Leiters. “Engineered free of any restrictions from road or race regulations, but with the full spectrum of McLaren’s expertise to bring it to reality, it epitomizes our pioneering spirit.”
Uncompromising resilience on the road emanates from a race-derived 7-speed sequential gearbox, 18” forged aluminum wheels with center locking nuts, Le Mans Prototype-specification tires in both slick and wet compounds, and 6-piston monobloc machined aluminum calipers and carbon brake discs and pads. Along with a twin-element fixed rear wing and an F1-inspired steering wheel, the McLaren Solus GT is expected to exceed 200 mph and reach 0-62 mph in 2.5 seconds. Furthermore, owners will receive a Racing Driver Experience replete with an individually sculpted driver seat, an FIA-homologated race suit and helmet, and more. Lastly, the Solus GT’s silhouette manifests from Computational Fluid Dynamics and wind-tunnel aerodynamic research.
2023 McLaren Artura Light Hybrid Supercar
What a momentous drive with the 2023 McLaren Artura during my stay in Monterey. The Silica White hybrid supercar gave me an introduction into McLaren’s electrified future since the all-new high-performance vehicle features an electric engine. With a $233,000 MSRP and superb mannerisms, the 671-horsepower (530 lb-ft of torque) supercar gets down with a powerful mid-mounted twin-turbocharged 3-liter 6-cylinder engine, McLaren dual-clutch 8-speed transmission, a small 71kW electric motor (attributes 94 of total horsepower), carbon ceramic brakes, and lightweight forged alloy wheels wrapped in staggered Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires. Collectively, the performance parameters allow the British supercar to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 3 seconds.
Artura originated from the pairing of “Art” and “Future” and precisely articulates McLaren’s vision of the perfect daily driver. It’s also the first McLaren to receive McLaren Carbon Lightweight Architecture that is styled, engineered, and produced at the McLaren Composites Technology Centre in England to focus on forthcoming e-McLarens. Artura feels more like an everyday vehicle than some of the higher-power McLarens but still flies when called upon as the 11-mile-only electric motor chimes in for full thrust. The four drive modes are easily selectable, including E-mode, Comfort, Sport, and Track. The Artura can be plugged in to recharge the battery, or energy can be recouped in Track mode. I didn’t feel any turbo lag since the e-motor sucks it up.
Inside, the simple but clever cockpit incorporates Clubsport performance seats, McLaren Orange seatbelts, a small 8” portrait infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, Bowers and Wilkins premium audio, and a titanium harness bar to connect racing belts. Externally, the design ethos consists of the following:
- Dihedral (scissor) doors.
- A set of large intakes behind the door and embedded within the aluminum clamshell formed in the shape of the McLaren swoosh.
- Dual flying buttresses channel and direct air towards the rear.
- Functional gills over the front wheels to suck out wheel pressure.
- Laser-cut aluminum mesh over the engine and around the dual exhaust tips for venting.
- Fewer pieces equal less weight, is McLaren’s performance philosophy.
With an array of added options and packages like the Gloss Black roof, carbon fiber diffuser, winglets, mirror caps, and front splitter, my Artura totaled $306,195 and included a 5-year vehicle warranty, 6-year battery warranty, 10-year body perforation corrosion warranty, and a 3-year service plan. Are you ready for an electrified British supercar? Indeed, McLaren is utilizing its historic achievements to usher into a brave new world.
Until We Meet Again in 2024
We concluded the fascinating week in the McLaren Villa while enjoying the classic cars pass over the judge’s ramp on the 18th fairway of Pebble Beach Golf Links during the 72nd Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. A 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster shown by Jim Patterson of the Patterson Collection won Best of Show. Monterey produced magical moments with team McLaren that I highly enjoyed while looking forward to the 2024 show transpiring on August’s third weekend.