The McLaren F1 was actually the creator Gordon Murray?s ultimate road car. Though this car had several hi-tech inputs, he never thought of racing them. But after a lot of convincing Murray finally relented to give his car for racing.
So several chassis were built keeping the in mind the 1995 racing season. An unused chassis was picked up to do the prototype. A full racing cage was developed and the body work went several modifications including addition of several cooling ducts with a large one at the centre of the nose and carbon brakes installed. The engine used was a BMW S70 V12. The car was tested for 24 hours at the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours, a course that is 250 km away from Paris.
And all efforts paid. Sponsored by Harrods (London?s luxury departmental stores) this car #51 driven by Andy Wallace and father/son duo of Derek and Justin Bell took the 3rd place in the podium. The year was 1995 and the race Le Mans.
McLaren and this car, the F1 GTR remains to be the only model in the world that took the podium on its debut making the #51 symbolic.