While the New Zealand motor racing community celebrates 50 years since Denny Hulme became our first (and probably our last) world Formula One motor racing champion, his engineer in this historic year, remembers the challenges with special memories.
Rangiora man Cary Taylor, at the time worked for the Brabham team and was assigned as Hulme’s number one engineer for the historic 1967 season. Success came early in the championship with a win at the famous Monaco Grand Prix.
“It doesn’t seem 50 years that I stood on the podium with Denny at Monaco. You don’t realise the significance of the occasion at the time,” he says.
“The Monaco win came as a bit of shock. The engine (a 2.5 litre Repco V8) was down on power and the car was a year old, so the win was incredibly important as the season unfolded,” Cary says.
The tight circuit helped Denny as he was very strong in the upper arms and with a rear set up that helped a little over- steer, he was able to negotiate the corners with some perfection.”
The race was saddened by the death of Ferrari driver Lorenzo Bandini, who had lead for two laps before being over taken by Hulme. Bandini crashed when chasing Hulme for the lead again.
A third place followed in Holland and by mid season, a new chassis and engine had arrived. The unit was immediately reliable and this enabled the spoils of the championship title that followed. He won in Germany, second in Great Britain, France and Canada and third in the USA and Mexico.
When the season was over, both Hulme and Cary moved to fellow New Zealander Bruce McLaren’s team. Cary worked as a chief engineer with the McLaren team (one that had been founded in 1965) from 1968 until 1974. He was on hand on a very tragic June 2, 1970 when McLaren was killed testing the teams latest Formula One car at the Goodwood circuit in England.
His effort with the team then focused on the Can Am Sports cars that had a serious championship in the USA and Canada.
The months that followed McLaren’s death was extremely difficult for the team. Apart from dealing with the loss of McLaren, Hulme burnt his hands when racing at Indianapolis.
“The McLaren success with the Can Am cars is well documented.
“In 1968 we had two of the best drivers in the world, driving cars that were technically superior. We still had our share of work to do and things didn’t always go to plan.
“The race at Bridgehampton was a total disaster with both cars retiring with engine issues. However at the finish of the series in Las Vegas, McLaren cars had won four out of six races, with Denny taking the championship and Bruce second.”
In 1969 the positions were reversed before Hulme soldiered on to win again in 1970, but without his teammate McLaren.
Surprisingly, he was never recognised in the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame until one year after his death in 1992. Ironically at the first awards in 1990, he was a guest, but only to introduce his late friend Bruce McLaren. This was an affront and an embarrassment on the voting academy.
Cary’s role with the sport was not confined to being just a top spanner man. During trips home in the summer he indulged in some single seater racing himself.
Driving a 1.6 litre Brabham BT21, he achieved some success in the national gold star championship before travelling to Singapore and finished fifth in the 1971 Singapore Grand Prix. Today he is more focused on his three acre block, but in 2015 was awarded a Historic Heritage Award from Motorsport New Zealand.