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WATKINS GLEN
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Racing center displays historic McLaren

    WATKINS GLEN—A McLaren M23 with one of the longest and most illustrious histories of the series is now on display at the International Motor Racing Research Center.
    Hosting this spectacular car is a fitting cap to the Center’s 2011 yearlong celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first Formula One race at Watkins Glen. It will be on display through April.
    Owned by Governing Council member Gregory G. Galdi, the M23/09 took the checkered flag as winner in its very first outing, in the Argentinian Grand Prix in January 1975 with Emerson Fittipaldi at the helm. In July of that year, Fittipaldi drove the car to victory in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
    The M23/09 competed in 25 Grand Prix races - 29 races overall - and had podium finishes in the hands of Fittipaldi, James Hunt and Jochen Mass.
    It has had only two owners: McLaren executive Leo Wybrott and Galdi. A full 25 years from its last race, the car had been residing in the Brooklands Museum.
    With Mass at the wheel, the car finished fourth at the 1976 U.S. Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, its only running at the Glen. The car’s most recent appearance at Watkins Glen was in a vintage event in 2006.
    The M23 series debuted in the 1973 season. The initial car earned pole position with Denny Hulme in its first race.
    The M23 series would go on to win its manufacturer two championships in three years and ensure its place in the history of Formula One.
    From 1973 to 1977, the M23 was under a development program that resulted in numerous, often significant, changes from race to race. With feedback from drivers Hulme, Peter Revson, Fittipaldi, Hunt and Mass, the M23 underwent constant upgrades in the search for improvements to gain a competitive edge.
    The body changed, the front track narrowed, a custom six-speed gearbox appeared. The now easily recognizable chisel-front nose was developed, as well as suspension modifications.
    Outsiders played a big role as well. Goodyear essentially custom-designed tires for the car, and Nicholson McLaren was tasked with extracting additional horsepower out of the well-developed 3.0 liter DFV engine.
    The International Motor Racing Research Center at Watkins Glen is dedicated to the preservation of the history of motorsports. To learn more about the center and its work, visit www.racingarchives.org.

 

 



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