In 1968, Bruce with Denny Hulme, made his only appearance as a driver at Indianapolis. They were to enter the race driving the previous year’s STP turbine car. Bruce was to drive a new turbine car built by Carrol Shelby. However, the American thought that car was too powerful and withdrew the entry before the race. It was later used as a promotional vehicle for Paul Newman's movie "Winning".
The discussion was made in July 1969 and Gordon Coppuck set about the design for the M15, basing it on the single seater Can-Am sports car experience in general tub layout and conception. In 1970 Bruce's team entered the 500 mile race with the M15, the first McLaren Indy car. The team won the prestigious award for engineering excellence.
1970 was a year that McLaren took Indianapolis by storm. Its first attempt at the Brickyard saw it take the prestigious designer’s award. The team built three cars based closely on the simple and yet effective Can-am designs using a broad monocoque tub skinned in 16 gauge Reynolds aluminium sheet over tree sheet-steel fabricated bulkheads.
The car was powered by a turbo charged Offenhauser 4 cylinder. Sadly Denny was burnt and Amon found that he could not build up to the speeds demanded. Peter Revson and Carl Williams took over the remaining two cars.
That McLaren Racing became a force in USAC racing in only five years is a tribute to the team's designers and managers. Oval racing requires totally different knowledge, experience and even equipment. Nevertheless, after a seven-year history of pure road racing the team entered the classic of all oval races in 1970, finished ninth and were awarded the coveted prize for engineering innovation. After this exploratory attempt they rewrote the record books, raising the qualifying speeds from 171 mph to 198 mph in just three years. In 1972 a privately owned and entered McLaren car won the race and the following year the team occupied fastest qualifying position at all three prestigious 500 mile USAC races. In 1974 only a small mechanical failure robbed the McLaren entry of a finishing position in the Ontario 500. Had Johnny Rutherford completed the distance he would have almost certainly gained the championship title for the British team.
The Team for 1970, left to right - Alan McCall, George Bolthoff, Tyler Alexander, Tom Anderson, Bruce, Peter Revson (in the car) and Hughie Absolom.