- Work began in 1963 on the first true McLaren race car that won its first time out in 1964.
- In 1966, the new Cam-Am (Canadian-American) Challenge Cup series began.
- After several successful competitions, Bruce McLaren was killed in a Can-Am race in 1970; but the McLaren team continued
- With this M20, the McLaren team improved engine and driving cooling, better handling with more front adhesion and cleaner aerodynamics.
Bruce McLaren was born in New Zealand in 1937. At age 22 he won his first Grand Prix championship race, the youngest man ever to accomplish that feat up to that point. He founded Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd. in Slough, England, in 1963 and began experimental and design work. McLaren purchased Roger Penske’s Cooper-based Zerex Special race car and after driving it unaltered for a few British races, he and his crew tore the car apart and rebuilt it using an Oldsmobile engine for power. The result was the first true McLaren car and it won its first time out at Mosport, Canada, in 1964.
In 1966, the new Canadian-American (Can-Am) Challenge Cup series began and McLaren’s team finished second and third. In 1967, McLarens won five out of six Can-Am races, four out of six in 1968, and 11 out of 11 in 1969. In June 1970, McLaren was killed testing his latest Can-Am challenger, the M8, when the rear section of his car broke away from the front end, rammed into an earthen bank and exploded. Despite the loss of McLaren, plans went ahead for McLaren cars to continue.
With this McLaren M20, McLaren team manager Teddy Mayer’s goal was to improve driver and engine cooling, obtain nimbler handling with more front adhesion and achieve cleaner aerodynamics. The 509 cubic inch fuel-injected Chevrolet V-8 engine received detail improvements, producing 750 H.P. Drivers Denny Hulme and Peter Revson drove two M20s in the 1972 Can-Am race with Hulme finishing first and Revson third.