Patty McLaren-Brickett

Happy Memories Of Patty….

It was a sad time for the Doghouse to learn of Patty McLaren-Brickett’s passing. We have had some lovely tributes and photographs sent in; if you have any special memories of Patty please email them and we will publish them….

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Sylvia Davis, Doghouse Committee Member, Vice Chairman, Director/Producer/Lyricist/Choreographer of the infamous Doghouse cabarets and pantomimes

I first met Pat when the Women’s Motor Racing Associates Club, fondly known as the Doghouse Owners’ Club was formed. Our wonderful club secretary, Eba (Grant) ‘phoned Pat in New Zealand to invite her to join the club in 1962, which she did the following year when she moved to England.

We were all very enthusiastic and determined to do whatever we could to make this exclusive club be a great success, by providing somewhere at the circuits where we could meet up with our young families as well as raising money for charity and the club’s Benevolent Fund. Pat was the Chairman for fifteen years, then Vice President from 1985 to 1989 and finally she was a Patron. She did an excellent job too.

When Bruce and Pat first moved to the UK from New Zealand, they lived in Surbiton, Surrey, where their daughter, Amanda was born. Soon afterwards they moved to a house in Burwood Park, in Weybridge. Their house was called Muriwai, a Maori name. Cliff and I were invited to a great party there in 1967 and I still have some of the photos of those present.

We had so many great times over the years; not only weekly lunches but holidays abroad, pub quizzes and parties after the British Grand Prix. One in particular springs to mind, when Mika Häkkinen won. While we were in the McLaren Hospitality Suite taking photos, we were invited to a party to celebrate. So we got a lift to the venue and had a wonderful evening dancing and I ended up sitting on Eddie Irvine’s Dad’s knee! I’ve got some great photos of Pat and Amanda at the party.

We also had the occasional drama! On one occasion, Pat and I had just left the Steering Wheel Club after our Doghouse Club monthly meeting, only to discover that her Fiesta wouldn’t start! As I had a Mustang fitted with a spoiler, I fixed it up so I could tow her, but pleaded with her not to brake suddenly! So we drove off through Curzon Street in Mayfair and headed for Park Lane. It was now 11.30pm and somehow we managed to avoid all the cars until half way around Hyde Park Corner, Pat braked and the inevitable happened! The spoiler fell off! How we didn’t get killed I will never know or what exactly happened next, but we both got to our homes safely, me with the spoiler on the back seat! Cliff was not best pleased.

Pat was very compassionate and went to great lengths to visit friends who were ill. When we lived in the house on the Thames at Staines, she used to come and see Cliff when he was ill and chat for hours. Pat was also very thoughtful because on one occasion when I was renting a flat, waiting to move into my next house, Pat was quite happy to sleep on my sofa overnight, she was great like that.

However, she could also be quite assertive and single minded, but we got on very well. Perhaps it is because I am a Cancerian and she was a Scorpion and it is rumoured that these two signs are compatible. I am inclined to believe that, as Cliff was also a Scorpion, but there is definitely a sting in their tail at times.

I think of her every day and miss her so much. I loved her to bits.

Shirley Procter, President, Doghouse WMRAC

Patty or Pat as she was known in latter years, meant so much to so many people that we felt you would like to share some of the anecdotes from those who knew her from the beginning in the 1963 when she arrived in Britain from her hometown of Christchurch, New Zealand, to join her fiancée Bruce McLaren.

I first met Pat and Bruce in Villefranche in the South of France and got to know them quite well as Peter had to go to Geneva to do a recce for Rootes (as their works driver). ‘Come on Shirl, come and join us!’ Bruce called from his speed-boat. I had never tried water-skiing before and resisted the invitation until the last day.

Laughing, Shirley admitted: “The first challenge was getting into a wet suit! After much hilarity and help from Bruce and Tony Maggs, the struggle or performance was over and I was ready for action!

Again there was much hilarity as my bottom kept hitting the water, as I was still in a crouched take-off position! ‘Stand up Shirl!’ Bruce called out encouragingly. Suddenly filled with self-belief, I did and stayed upright!

Pat, who was watching this spectacle from the beach as her foot was in plaster, which was the result of a nasty water-skiing accident in New Zealand, was the first to congratulate me afterwards. We really have such wonderful memories of the greatest times with these lovely friends. They were indeed, very special times.

Pat was a loyal, lovely and brave lady and she will be sadly missed by Peter and myself, like so many of her friends in the Doghouse.

 Georgie Shaw GoMW, BWRDC, WMRAC. Patron of Chelsea Autolegends 2012, Co-Author Racey Recipes

From the moment Sylvia introduced me to Patty, we got on like a ‘house on fire’. I remember it was a glorious day in June and we were sitting on the balcony at the London Rowing Club in Putney. It was after all the perfect venue for the Doghouse AGMs as Graham and Bette Hill were celebrated members of the historic club.  We chatted for ages in between a glass of wine or three and that was the beginning of a long and wonderful friendship.

Since that summer’s day in 1982, we met regularly for lunch, often with Sylvia and Sandra (Young.) Invariably the conversation turned to grand prix racing in the 60s and 70s. Apart from the safety aspect and the general lack of amenities at circuits, we all agreed that it was a wonderful period to be in motor racing, whether in Formula 1 or Can-Am. “

There was a special camaraderie among the drivers and teams, and of course we all went to the prize-giving dinner after each grand prix, so there was always a lot of fun and outrageous tricks played on various team bosses! One well-known boss had his car high-jacked while he was eating in a restaurant. After much searching, he found it perched 6ft high in the air!

Patty recounted. “We were all (the wives) very involved in those days, arranging travel, making the tea and sandwiches as well as time-keeping. I was well known for keeping very accurate lap-charts for the top fifteen at least. On one occasion when the circuit’s system failed, the officials used my lap times to form the starting grid!”

One of the most fascinating stories Patty told me about was when Bruce won the 1962 Monaco Grand Prix: “It was very thrilling when Bruce won at Monaco. Immediately after the race had finished, we were both introduced to Princess Grace and Prince Rainier at the podium ceremony, next to the track. The winner was always invited to dine with the Rainiers afterwards, so that evening, Bruce and I went to the Palace and were seated next to Prince Rainier and Princess Grace, while sitting opposite us was a very tanned Richard Burton with his beautiful wife Elizabeth (Taylor.) I couldn’t take my eyes off Elizabeth’s dazzling emerald and diamond necklace, a present from Richard. Apparently he had bought them at a London auction house earlier that day with the proviso that they were personally delivered by a senior director to Richard at the Burton’s hotel in Monaco that afternoon. The necklace was fabulous and it was the most unforgettable evening and weekend.”

On another occasion Patty remembers wonderful times when she and Bruce stayed with Pete Revsons’ parents in their holiday home in Hawaii, and she particularly liked the hint of Revlon perfume wafting through the rooms. This was years before scented candles and such like were commonly used.

When I was driving Patty to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix some years ago, she told me about the time when she was driving Bruce to Brands Hatch for the British Grand Prix and they were in a terrible traffic jam on the A25. Bruce had to flag down a motorcyclist down to get a lift. As Bruce had already put his helmet on and had his bag with his boots, goggles and overalls inside, the obliging rider had no idea that he had a grand prix star on the back of his motorbike. Fortunately, they arrived at the circuit with time to spare, but Patty arrived fifteen minutes after the grand prix had started. As they say, you don’t count the narrow escapes!

Sadly, I never met Bruce, but as a former BWRDC Chairman, competitor and Formula One fan, I knew a lot about him and the McLaren-Honda F1 team. I greatly admired what he had achieved during his short life and of course loved hearing about these stories. I also loved the fact that their house called Muriwai in Burwood Park, Weybridge was named after Bruce’s first victory.   He was just 15 when he won his first event; driving his Austin 7 Ulster, he won his class at the inaugural Muriwai hill climb.

Patty also told me about the great times they spent with Jimmy Clark. He stayed with them when he came to New Zealand to compete in the Tasman Series and they all became great friends.

I understand that when Eoin Young first introduced Bruce to Patty, he told Eoin later that day: ‘This is the girl I am going to marry!’ When Patty and Bruce were married in Christchurch, New Zealand on December 9th 1961, their good friends Stephen (Count Ouveroff) and Aprille were married on the same day in London. Stephen was racing in Formula One with Bruce in the 60s and have remained close ever since.

I first met Aprille at the Racey Recipe Book launch, during the British Grand Prix weekend at Silverstone, as she and Stephen like Patty, and the great and good in motorsport had contributed to our book; the brainchild of Loti Irwin.

Afterwards we would meet at Patty’s birthday celebration which took place at Le Gavroche in Mayfair, Michel Roux Jnr’s 2 star Michelin restaurant. We always had a wonderful time, the food and wine, let alone the company was unbeatable! On one occasion we left at 5:30pm. I blame Aprille for that one as she insisted on buying another bottle of champagne after our meal. Wonderful!

Unfortunately the one time I managed to get a photo of Michel with Patty after he had given her a birthday kiss, the picture was terribly grainy, one of the worst I have ever taken. Unfortunately the lighting did not suit my iPad. Amanda was in England on that occasion and Michel told Amanda and Patty that he already had a McLaren 12C which he really enjoyed but his wife complained of lack of space for her luggage!

Patty’s birthday lunch circle included Sylvia (until she moved to Pangham), Aprille, Sandra, Janet (Barriskill) and me. Janet and her husband Michael had known Patty for 36 years and they would meet regularly. Michael, who shared a passion for motorsport, chauffeured Patty, accompanying her to several motorsport events each year.

Patty and I shared many great times together and I was a frequent dinner guest with her and Douglas (her widower) who although had no interest in motorsport, was very hospitable and welcomed me to their lovely home in Weybridge. After dinner, Douglas would retire to read a book, while he left us to chat the night away.

Sometime after Bruce’s fatal accident, Judy Ganley came to stay with Patty and Amanda in Weybridge and during that time they both got their Private Pilot’s license on the same day at Fair Oaks airfield, Patty going solo first!

There are a couple of memorable occasions which stand out for me; one was when I accompanied Patty to the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours. Patty had been invited by McLaren to be their VIP guest for the weekend and as Douglas had no interest, Patty invited me.

We drove through France to Magny- Cours where we were greeted by Peter Stayner, McLaren’s Partner Ambassador and welcomed into the McLaren Hospitality Suite in the F1 paddock for breakfast.

First of all Ron Dennis came along to welcome us, then Mika Häkkinen came to meet us. It was a wonderful beginning to an amazing weekend. Afterwards Peter took us through the McLaren pits and upstairs to the exclusive McLaren Formula One Paddock Club suite, where we were wined and dined every day and treated to presentations by the drivers and team members, giving updates on the Grand Prix weekend.

The view was superb, directly above the McLaren garage and pits. It was an absolutely fabulous experience and I particularly loved it when I introduced Patty to the other VIPs on our table and in the room, to see the look of incredulity when they realized who Patty was! They were all thrilled and it certainly added something very special to their VIP experience of a Grand Prix weekend. We were also staying in a wonderful hotel, with little cottages surrounding a swimming-pool. The restaurant which was part of a water-mill was fabulous, it was the most wonderful weekend.

The other occasion was more recent, it was McLaren’s 50th Anniversary Celebration at the Festival of Speed at Goodwood. I had arranged to meet Patty, Amanda and her husband Stephen and Michael on the Sunday in the McLaren 50th Anniversary Pavilion. McLaren Automotive CEO Mike Flewitt was introduced to us as well as McLaren Automotive Designer Frank Stephenson. On that occasion Keith Holland, from McLaren’s Marketing department was hosting our group and we soon discovered that he was not only a Kiwi but also had lived in Christchurch.

I introduced everyone to the BBC F1 pit lane reporter Lee McKenzie who was hosting the event on behalf of McLaren and we arranged some great photo-shoots with Patty, Amanda and Sparky in the McLaren 12C. As one would expect the McLaren display was superb and everyone appeared to be impressed with their line-up of supercars.

Suddenly, the screens flashed and a short video clip started, showing a driver in white overalls walking down the Goodwood Motor Circuit, past debris from his crash…….. the buzz that had filled the McLaren display immediately stopped as the visitors watched in complete silence as this poignant film ran. I know Patty had seen the screening of the film, but not Amanda. It was a most moving moment and I have goose-bumps just writing about it now. I can’t remember if everyone applauded afterwards, but it certainly made a huge impact to everyone that day.

Patty was a terrifically loyal person, very thoughtful and great company to be with and she was very proud of the McLaren F1 team and the McLaren Group as a whole. If anyone dared to say anything against McLaren, they would soon discover that she was a true Scorpion!

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