Tyler Alexander 1940-2016
F1 mourns the death of the stalwart who helped build and then hold together the McLaren team
Tyler Alexander, one of the founding fathers of McLaren, passed away on 7 January, aged 75.
Alexander grew up on the Atlantic coast in Hingham, Massachusetts, and trained as an aircraft engineer. This vocation instilled in him rigorous attention to detail, but conventional ofce routines did not appeal and he felt drawn towards the arena of motor racing, in which a number of his friends were competing at club level.
One friend, John Fields, began racing in national 500cc events in a Cooper-Norton, which Alexander maintained for him. It was then that Alexander encountered the gifted young racing driver Timmy Mayer, his elder brother Teddy, and future racing magnate Roger Penske.
Soon Alexander found himself working for the Mayers, which led to a life-changing trip to Europe in the summer of 1963. Within months the Mayers had joined forces with Bruce McLaren to found a team, and Alexander was persuaded to stay on after Timmy Mayer’s death as Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd continued to push forwards.
Over the next 20 years, Alexander went from chief mechanic to director, overseeing construction of both single-seater and Can-Am cars, tirelessly crisscrossing the Atlantic during McLaren’s growth phase when Can-Am prize money was underwriting F1 development, and helping keep the team together after Bruce’s death in June 1970.
He left briey in the early 1980s to form an IndyCar team with Teddy Mayer, but was re-recruited by Ron Dennis to bolster McLaren’s engineering, and remained there until he retired at the end of 2008.
“Tyler was one of the rst pillars of our company – working hard alongside Bruce from the very earliest days – and Bruce couldn’t have asked for a sturdier pair of shoulders upon which to help build the team’s reputation,” said Dennis.