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Tyler Alexander, 1940 - 2016

08 Jan 2016

Tyler Alexander, one of the founding members of McLaren, has died at the age of 75. Alexander joined driver Bruce McLaren in the early 1960s to help set up the team that would go on to become one of the most successful in F1 racing.

Paying tribute to the American, McLaren Chairman and CEO Ron Dennis said: “Tyler Alexander was one of the first pillars of our company - working hard alongside Bruce from the very earliest days - and Bruce couldn’t have asked for a sturdier pair of shoulders upon which to help build the team’s reputation.”

After helping establish the team in 1963, Alexander worked with McLaren for two decades before leaving in 1983, two years after Dennis’s arrival at the helm. However, he returned in 1989 and remained with the squad until his retirement in 2008.

"Tyler Alexander was a true motor racing man, passionate, knowledgeable and the kindest of people," commented Formula One group CEO Bernie Ecclestone. "He worked with some of the greatest drivers, spanning nearly 50 years.

"He was a friend and had been through his days in motorsport. Tyler was a special person to me. He understood people and the sport. I am going to miss him."

Alexander started out McLaren's chief mechanic, working alongside Bruce McLaren and fellow American Teddy Mayer, before becoming chief engineer and then a director. As well as F1 racing, he led the company to success in the United States in the CanAm sportscars and Indycar series.

“Tyler's skilful yet practical expertise, coupled with his energetic and optimistic attitude, topped off by his infectiously dry and satirical sense of humour, made him both highly successful and hugely popular,” continued Dennis, “whether he was overseeing car-builds in the team's workshop, running race-winning CanAm and Indy 500 crews, or working with some of the world’s greatest drivers and engineers in Formula One."

In his period away from McLaren in the 1980s, Alexander returned to the US to join Mayer in running an Indycar team, before the pair briefly became joint team principals of the short-lived Beatrice F1 squad, which contested the 1985 and ’86 seasons.

After another brief stint in Indycar, he was re-signed by Dennis to McLaren in 1989 as a special projects engineer, and over his final 20 years with the team they won six drivers' and five constructors' titles, with the likes of Ayrton Senna and Mika Hakkinen.

“Quite simply, Tyler lived and breathed McLaren," added Dennis. "And, following his retirement in late 2008, during which season he attended every Grand Prix and played an important part in securing the team's and Lewis Hamilton's world championship success, he remained a much loved and greatly valued chum to many of us, regularly visiting our Woking factory to catch up with pals old and new. Tyler's was a friendship that you could really rely upon; he was a man who would never let you down.

“In fact, Tyler was one of the finest of the old school: hardy, humble and wise, leaving a reputation and a legacy that will remain indelible in the history of international motorsport.”