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Former McLaren F1 boss Teddy Mayer dies

Rafay Ansar

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Former McLaren Formula One boss Teddy Mayer, the man who rescued the team after the death of its founder, Bruce McLaren, has died at the age of 73.

Mayer first became involved in motorsports through his younger brother, Tim, who worked his way up from humble beginnings with Austin Healey in club events in 1959 to competing in the U.S. Grand Prix by 1962.

A law graduate, Mayer joined his brother as manager and mentor when he tried to make it in Europe, initially in Formula Junior. Tim Mayer quickly impressed, and landed a Cooper F1 seat for 1964. As a precursor, he partnered with Bruce McLaren in the winter Tasman series. Tim Mayer showed real potential, but lost his life in a crash at the deadly Longford road circuit.

Despite the tragedy, Mayer chose to stay involved with motorsports and in effect became McLaren's right-hand man; he organized the team and the factory, and oversaw the hugely successful CanAm campaigns.

When McLaren was killed in June 1970, Mayer took over. Emerson Fittipaldi went on to win the world championship in 1974, and James Hunt repeated that feat two years later.

But in the late 1970s the team had lost its way as it failed to keep up with ground effect technology. Mayer took a lot of flak for failing to sign Gilles Villeneuve for a full-time drive, although he did give Alain Prost his first seat in 1980.

That year, sponsor Philip Morris engineered a takeover by Ron Dennis, who had put together his own F1 project. The two men worked together for a while, but inevitably Mayer didn’t stay long.

Mayer returned to F1 in 1985, running Carl Haas’s Beatrice-backed Lola team. All the ingredients seemed to be in place--Ford engines and the likes of Ross Brawn and Adrian Newey on the engineering strength--but the team flopped.

Mayer subsequently went to work for Roger Penske, and he was a key part of the team’s massive success into the 1990s. Mayer ran the British operation in Poole.

Not one to suffer fools gladly, Mayer had a somewhat dour image, but in fact he had a dry sense of humor, and his achievements as a manager speak for themselves.

Born Edward Everett Mayer, he was the son of a World War I flying ace, Edward Mayer Sr., whose first wife was the daughter of Titanic victim Benjamin Guggenheim. When she died young, Mayer's father married into Pennsylvania’s famous Scranton family, which had close ties with the Republican party. Mayer's uncle, William W. Scranton, would become state governor and was considered for the 1964 presidential nomination.
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