Rush: McLaren at 50

Cars People Culture

The banks of the Thames at Millbank were last night lined with an acreage of carbon fibre and alcantara – as noble British automotive and motorsports brand McLaren celebrated their 50th anniversary. As part of a rolling flotilla of events that highlight half a century of excellence, Millbank tower hosted an exclusive private screening of Rush – the forthcoming Ron Howard blockbuster that documents the famous duel in the season of 1976 between the James Hunt piloted McLaren and Niki Lauda’s Scuderia Ferrari.

As well as showing the movie McLaren stalwart and cheif test Driver Chris Goodwin (below) was on hand to discuss the company’s latest innovations, particularly the P1 hypercar that’s set to challenge records in terms of terminal velocity and Nürburgring lap times. The P1 was there in the flesh – a thousand kilos or so of passionately wrought tech that just might live up to expectations.

McLaren's chief test driver Chris Goodwin professes the awesomeness of the P1
McLaren’s chief test driver Chris Goodwin professes the awesomeness of the P1

What didn’t quite live up to billing, however, was the film itself. It looked great – and there were authentic action sequences and an amazing performance by Daniel Brühl in the Lauda role. It was nice too, to meet James Hunt’s brother and his spookily resemblant son in advance of the show. The family touch lent an appropriate emotional connection to a season as visceral and dramatic as that of 1976.

But the script was clunky and full of exposition with Aussie actor Chris Hemsworth’s over-hunky rendering of the James Hunt swagger failing to convince. Still – it’s an attractive assemblage of sexy action sequences and human erotica too – and there are some brilliant detail shots of the workings of the Grand Prix cars of the mid seventies – particularly the Cosworth DFV engine – all bubbling pots and transmission jolts. There’s some great street spotting cars as cameos too; including some really cool Lancia action and Celica love in the final Fuji scene.

Champion brand, and an almost champion film.