Once In A Lifetime

McLaren Auckland Sales Manager, Luke Neuberger, recently hosted 26 Kiwi owners in the United Kingdom on an amazing trip to attend the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the dynamic launch of the forthcoming McLaren GT and an exclusive visit to McLaren’s famed technical centre and McLaren Special Operations.

From Monterey to Le Mans, if you’re a car enthusiast with the means to attend, you’re spoilt for choice where prestigious car events around the world are concerned.

But the argument for the Goodwood Festival of Speed topping them all is certainly a strong one.

Goodwood simply has everything, for everyone. Much more than a hill climb, Goodwood has become the UK’s unofficial car show; it is now Britain’s most visible event at which to launch new luxury metal to the public.

Unlike other festivals where the focus is weighted heavily to one singular aspect, Goodwood brings together an impossibly heady mix of cars, stars and motorsport, ensuring its position as the world’s largest car culture event.

Held all within the immaculate grounds of Goodwood House, the festival offers a huge amount of variety. A hill climb featuring a hand-selected array of famous cars and drivers from all over the world, a weekend of classic circuit racing, a rally stage and of course a supercar motor show (and guest carpark) that beggars belief.

Every two years McLaren Auckland extends the opportunity for customers to attend the McLaren VIP hospitality area at Goodwood, as well as get an exclusive behind-the-scenes experience within McLaren’s technical centre and Special Operations division. This year, the activities also included getting up close and personal with the soon-to-be-released McLaren GT that had its dynamic debut at Goodwood.

Meeting 26 customers in London, McLaren Auckland’s Sales Manager, Luke Neuberger, arranged helicopter transfers to bypass the notorious Goodwood traffic and land directly in the infield of Goodwood’s race circuit.

 

Goodwood NZ Guests

Of course, this place is tragically, yet intrinsically, linked to the McLaren brand as Kiwi founder, Bruce McLaren, was killed here during testing of the M8D prototype race car in 1970. There’s a memorial to Bruce at the site; the chance to stop and pay tribute is understandably poignant for the collective countrymen and women passionate about the brand he built.

Goodwood is huge and the owners had two full days (you really do need them both) to fully explore the event. The access one has to some of the world’s most exclusive automotive treasures is surprising; there are no barriers and you’re free to – respectfully – pour over cars you’re unlikely to see anywhere else at your leisure.

Equally exciting for McLaren owners was the brand’s VIP area which was attended by a who’s-who of McLaren’s racing greats, as well as the organisation’s senior management. Where else can you rub shoulders with Bruno Senna, Mika Hakkinen and chat with McLaren’s CEO, Mike Flewitt or Bruce McLaren’s daughter, Amanda, all in the one afternoon?

McLaren is very much the type of company to genuinely engage one-on-one with owners and they value their Kiwi customer’s input. Key engineers and designers engage with the owners about their experience with the brand, and get feedback on the just-revealed GT.

McLaren has used Goodwood to demonstrate the GT driving for the first time, with McLaren Auckland customers among the first in the world to see it and hear it in action. Developing 456kW from the bi-turbo V8, a muscular engine note reverberates through your ribcage with each blistering run up the hill. Needless to say, customer feedback is positive.

After two full days of Goodwood, Amanda McLaren’s husband Stephen Donnell takes the New Zealand guests on a guided tour of the McLaren Technology Centre.

The centre itself is a marvel, surrounded by man-made reservoirs containing 50,000 cubic metres of water, pumped through a series of heat exchangers to cool the building and dissipate heat from the enormous wind tunnels.

More importantly, the corridors (known as 'streets' internally) house a selection of McLaren’s greatest hits from the 1960’s right through to modern day.

The 80m walk down memory lane features icons such as the F1 GTR and Ayrton Senna’s MP4/4. To see one of these cars up close in your lifetime is special; to see dozens all at once is a one-in-a-million shot.

The Kiwi VIPs are also treated to a tour of the production line, as well as McLaren Special Operations (MSO) where McLaren builds bespoke combinations for its growing customer base.

Following all the unique experiences at Goodwood and McLaren’s headquarters, the owners enjoyed a fine dining experience with special McLaren guest, Ian Digman, the brand’s global Head of Product Management.

Ian is across not just the current models but everything McLaren will be releasing up to 2025. He spoke enthusiastically about the marque’s future direction and exactly what secret technology their supercars will feature in the next five years.

To say the trip was one of a lifetime is to do it a disservice. If you’re a McLaren fanatic and customer, it’s certainly something that will stay with you. Luke and the team at Auckland McLaren are privileged to have such great attendance from local customers.

Words by Steve Vermeulen 

Photos by Logan West

McLaren Technology Centre

You can't walk more than a few paces within the McLaren Technology centre without coming across iconic metal from the manufacturer's past.

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