New Zealander Phil Kerr, an instrumental figure in the formative years of McLaren, has died.
Born in Auckland in 1934, Kerr became friends with Bruce McLaren in the early 1950’s when they competed in hillclimb events in their native New Zealand.
During this period late Sir Jack Brabham met Kerr through McLaren and with the triple World Champion responsible for influencing him to move to England where in 1959 he came Brabham’s manager, running his garage in London.
It was not until after compatriot Denny Hulme won the 1967 Formula 1 World Championship at the Brabham team, that Kerr along with Hulme decided to move to McLaren.
Following the tragic death of Bruce McLaren in 1970, Kerr, who had become Racing Director at the team, and along with Teddy Meyer and Tyler Alexander he played a strong role in helping the concern through those troubled times.
McLaren chief Ron Dennis produced a statement saying that the squad owed Kerr a great deal of gratitude.
“Speaking on behalf of all at McLaren, I am very sorry to hear the news that Phil Kerr has passed away.
“Phil was a McLaren stalwart from the company’s very earliest days, having met Bruce McLaren in the early 1950s when the they were both racing Austin Sevens in their native New Zealand.
“At Brabham, Phil and Denny Hulme, one of the greatest Kiwi racers of all time, became good friends – and, after Denny had won the world championship for Jack’s team in 1967, he and Phil decided to move together to McLaren to rejoin Bruce.
“From then on Phil was an inspirational force for good, helping Bruce and Denny establish McLaren as a successful going concern.
“Now, decades later, the 3000 people who make up McLaren therefore owe Phil a debt of gratitude. On behalf of us all, I consequently extend heartfelt sympathy to his family and many friends. May he rest in peace.”
Speedcafe.com extends its sympathy to Phil’s extensive network of friends and family.