Two-Time F1 Champion Mika Häkkinen To Drive 1970 McLaren Can-Am “Batmobile” At Monterey Motorsports Reunion
Two-time Formula 1 world champion Mika Häkkinen is to add to the attractions at this year’s Monterey Motorsports Reunion by demonstrating on track a famed McLaren Cam-Am car once driven by legends such as Dan Gurney. It’s 20 years since Häkkinen earned his second consecutive F1 drivers’ championship, both with McLaren, and at this year’s running of the popular annual historic racing celebration at the Laguna Seca circuit in California, taking place on August 15 to 18, the Flying Finn will show off the 1970 McLaren M8D/3 “Batmobile”. Häkkinen will complete his exhibition laps in the noon hour during each of the first three days of the four-day event.
The Batmobile car has considerable racing heritage. American racing legend Gurney and F1 race winner Peter Gethin each raced this very car during the 1970 Can-Am season as team-mates to Denny Hulme, following the tragic loss of Bruce McLaren in an accident testing the Can-Am car at Goodwood in June that year. Gurney drove the car that will appear at Laguna Seca in the first three races of the ’70 season, and won twice from pole position at spectacular Canadian tracks Mosport and Mont-Tremblant. He was then replaced by Gethin who raced the car seven times, taking a win at Road America along with two other podiums. The car then in ’71 was used as a spare for Bruce McLaren Motor Racing drivers Peter Revson and Hulme, and was raced in privateer hands from ’72 to ’74.
It is in traditional McLaren papaya livery, the color that McLaren has brought back to modern F1 and Indianapolis, and is powered by a roaring 7.6-liter Chevrolet engine. The high strut-mounted rear wing of its predecessor—the M8B—had been banned by Can-Am, so the M8D’s rear wing was mounted low on fins, earning the car’s Batmobile nickname. McLaren dominated the 1970 Can-Am season with nine wins from the 10 rounds that year. Furthermore, McLaren drivers Bruce McLaren, Hulme and Revson won five straight Can-Am championships from 1967 to 1971.
This will be the third consecutive year that Häkkinen, who had not previously driven at Laguna Seca, will make demonstration laps at Monterey Motorsports Reunion. He drove the 1974 McLaren M23 F1 machine in 2017 and the 1995 McLaren F1 GTR last year. “This track is fun, really enjoyable,” Häkkinen said. “The track goes up and down, and some of the corners have great camber. It looks tighter than it is from a distance, so you need a lot of guts to brake later and take the right line.”
This year’s Monterey Motorsports Reunion received entry applications for more than 1000 cars, and upwards of 500 historic and period-correct cars made the cut to compete across some 14 categories. The cars present span 103 years, from a pre-war group including a 1911 National Speedway Roadster and 1911 Fiat S74, through to the Masters Endurance Legends which boasts a 2014 Lola Toyota Rebellion LMP1 prototype; there also will be a Masters Historic Formula 1 grid of challengers from between 1966 and 1985. This year’s event also will honor the 50th anniversary of the International Motor Sports Association, better known as IMSA. Tickets are on sale now.
Images courtesy of WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca