Bruce Wants to go Faster is the latest in the Inspirational Kiwis series of children’s books – the others are Ed Climbs a Big Hill and Jean Dreams of Flying. Based on some of our most iconic kiwis, the books have underlying themes about dreams, goals, hard work, and more.
This book outlines the life of Bruce McLaren, a kiwi motor-racing star who put New Zealand on the world map, going on to become the youngest driver (aged 22) to win a Formula 1 Grand Prix.
Bruce’s father was a keen motorcyclist and car racer, and Bruce initially dreamed of being a motorcycle racer. After developing a limp when he was 11, he was diagnosed with Perthes Syndrome and spent two years confined to bed with his legs in plaster. To overcome the boredom he organised gurney (wheeled stretcher) races around the wards at night when the nurses were off duty, and carved racing cars out of pieces of wood.
At 15, Bruce got his driver’s licence and began racing at the Auckland Car Club’s competition days. The book follows Bruce taking part in his first International GP race in Auckland in 1956 alongside superstars like Stirling Moss and Jack Brabham. A year later he and his father bought Jack’s Cooper T41 Climax racing car and that is when Bruce’s luck changed. He won his first hill climb in the car, and three races at the Levin circuit. Eventually he ended up in England where he began competing against the best. He raced in Europe, and won his first GP race in the United States when he was 22.
In the years to come, frustrated by cars he felt often let him down, Bruce decided to design his own cars. In 1964 he won the NZIGP and was working on developing the first McLaren sports cars, the M1. The following year he had a contract to develop the GT40 racing car for Ford, and in 1966, he and fellow kiwi, Chris Amon, won the Le Mans 24-hour race in that car.
The last chapter of the book delves into the themes that we can all learn from Bruce McLaren, including belief, continual improvement, dreaming, hard work, passion, patience and persistence. The pictorial timeline at the back shows the progression from Bruce’s tricycle in 1941 to the McLaren M6GT in 1968.
While the book is aimed at older readers, there’s nothing to stop a parent reading this book to their younger car-mad sons and daughters to inspire them. However, I do think it’s a book that may need to be read alongside some research into Bruce McLaren and together with someone who has a bit of a passion for the subject. A bit of judicious editing before publication wouldn’t have gone amiss.
Reviewed by Faye Lougher
Bruce Wants to go Faster
by Dreydon Sobanja and Murray Dewhurst
Published by Inspired Kids Ltd