McLaren's 'Triple Crown' Monaco F1 livery: stories behind the glory


McLaren has unveiled a special edition 60th anniversary F1 livery which it will run at the 2023 Monaco GP, recognising its victories at Monte Carlo, Le Mans and the Indy 500

McLaren 2023 Monaco GP Triple Crown livery

McLaren has released a special edition livery for its 60th anniversary, celebrating its 'Triple Crown' victories at the Indy 500, the Monaco GP and 24 Hours of Le Mans


Motor sport’s ‘Triple Crown’: the Monaco Grand Prix, the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans is racing’s coveted equivalent of the Holy Grail.

Only one manufacturer has one them all with cars of its won design and construction – McLaren.

Now, in its 60th anniversary year, the organisation will commemorate the landmark at the 2023 Monaco GP – the venue Bruce McLaren’s eponymous team made its debut – with a special livery recognising its victories with Johnny Rutherford at the 1974 Indy 500, Alain Prost at Monaco ’84 and Kokusai Kaihatsu Racing at Le Mans ’95.

McLaren’s IndyCar outfit is already marking the occasion with throwback liveries of the three winning cars across a trio of its 2023 Indy 500 entries this Sunday.

On the same day at the Monaco GP, the grand prix team will combine all three on the cars of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri.

Behind every epic glory though is a captivating story: the account of blood, sweat and tears that led to historic sporting achievement, all contributing to McLaren becoming one of motor sport’s most successful teams across all disciplines.

Below, we delve into our archives to retrace the tale of each brilliant victory, the combination of which made McLaren the only team holding motor sport’s Triple Crown.


1974 Indianapolis 500 – Johnny Rutherford

Johnny Rutherford McLaren 1974 Indianapolis 500

Rutherford on his way to ’74 Indy 500 win

Getty Images

The 1974 Indy 500 was the culmination of a decade of trials and tribulations for IndyCar star Johnny Rutherford.

Entering that year’s race, the Coffeyville, Kansas-native had started the 500 ten times, but incredibly never finished.

In ’73 though, he had taken pole with his new McLaren team, and things were looking promising with the MC16 Indy machine totally hooked up.

From the archive

“It was perfect,” Rutherford told Motor Sport. “It’s so good when you have a good car and everything happens right.”

It looked like all that pace might be in vain though – a blown engine in practice meant Rutherford was excluded from pole day proceedings, meaning his eventual qualifying lap – which was actually second fastest of the whole field “without even trying” – put him 25th on the grid.

It mattered not on race day though – Rutherford soon scythed past his rivals, and by lap 12 was up to third, until meeting his match in the form of the fearsome AJ Foyt.

“We raced hard in the middle stages of the race, both taking turns in the lead,” remembered Rutherford. “He had the Ford V8 overhead cam, and his car was a little faster down the straightaways than mine. But I was all over him through the turns. He could be halfway through the turn when I was just entering it, but then I’d be on his tail going across the short chute that followed.

“It was frustrating when a car like that has just enough torque or strength to get down the straightaway a little quicker than you, but I knew if I kept the pressure on him I would either run him out of right rear tyre, or engine.”

Eventually Foyt’s Ford power unit did break, spewing oil all over Rutherford’s McLaren. ‘Super Tex’ was eventually black-flagged, handing Rutherford the race – it was the second-furthest back anyone had won the 500 from, after Lou Meyer, who came home first after starting 28th.

“It was everything I ever hoped it would be,” said Rutherford. “To get your image on that Borg Warner trophy means a great deal.”


1984 Monaco Grand Prix – Alain Prost

Alain Prost McLaren 1984 Monaco GP

Prost took McLaren’s first Monaco win in 1984

Paul-Henri Cahier/Getty Images

Ironically, the 1984 blast round the principality streets is most-remembered for being Ayrton Senna’s breakout race but the man he was chasing down, Alain Prost ultimately claimed the first ever Monaco McLaren win on the track at which the team made its debut.

It would be the first of 15 for the Woking team, five clear of nearest challenger Ferrari. Though it’s often viewed in the light of being a race in which Senna was denied a rightful victory, it’s also an example of vintage Prost – clear-headed, calculated driving being exactly enough to win.

From the archive

Prost put his McLaren MP4/1C on pole by 0.091sec from the charging Lotus of Nigel Mansell, while McLaren team-mate Niki Lauda was 1.2sec off down in eighth.

Raceday was held in treacherous conditions, with an all-Renault pile-up of Patrick Tambay and Derek Warwick at the first corner a forerunner of things to come.

When Prost’s TAG-Porsche turbo began misfiring, Mansell homed in, taking the chance to nip past when the Frenchman hesitated over a lapped car.

On lap 15 though the Lotus slid into the barrier at Casino Square, handing the lead back to Prost.

Four laps later, and Senna was on the hunt – now in second place, the Toleman driver was looking to take his debut win in only his sixth F1 race.

From lap 29, Prost began having brake issues caused by the cold weather, and started waving down the start/finish straight, indicating he thought the race should be stopped due to the dangerous conditions.

On lap 32 clerk of the course Jacky Ickx duly threw the chequered flag. Though a contentious ending, it would be the first of four Monaco victories for Prost, and a momentous debut Monte Carlo win for McLaren too.

1995 24 Hours of Le Mans – Yannick Dalmas, JJ Lehto, Masanori Sekiya


Kokusai Aihatsu Racing McLaren won Le Mans 1995 in the hands of JJ Lehto, Yannick Dalmas and Masanori Sekiya

Sygma via Getty Images

No one expected McLaren’s F1 GTR to win the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans. In fact, as Woking’s crew chief of the GT project Mike Grain ttold Motor Sport: “it was never meant to be a race car, let alone a 24-hour one.”

Gordon Murray’s legendary road car design was supposed to be his escape from racing, creating his dream road-going machine.

However, the F1 found its way into the 1995 GT Championship, and it wasn’t long before customer teams were soon on to McLaren about entering Le Mans too. But the F1 GTR wasn’t quite up to the challenge yet.

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“We started with a tiny team, four of us. We worked our way through building the Le Mans car, taking it from a road car chassis to a race car, testing throughout the winter of ’95,” Grain said.

“We ran a 24-hour test at Magny-Cours in 24-hour specification and that went very well. I remember chief engineer James Robinson and I had a 150-item job list ahead of the car departing that kept us very busy.

“It wasn’t still far off the base three-to-four-hour car that we developed, but there was a package that we developed around it. I think that’s the amazing thing about that car.”

Seven F1 GTRs entered the blue riband enduro, but it was the Dalmas/Lehto/Sekiya No59 Kokusai Kaihatsu Racing car, starting ninth, which would steal the day.

Up against the faster prototypes, the F1 GTR didn’t have a chance, but as it turned out, rain was the equaliser. The N059 machine began to move up the field when rain fell after the first hour.

“It’s difficult for me to explain the driving conditions during the race,” says Dalmas. “It was terrible. If you talk with any other drivers about 1995, all drivers say it was terrible. Aquaplaning on the straight and all over the lap. If we compare ’95 and today, we’d probably have a safety car.

Murray's McLareb at Le Mans 1995

No59 en route to the win


“Just one hour before the chequered flag the track was dry, but you can’t imagine how difficult it was during the race.”

Not all were of a similar opinion though, particularly the F1 GTR driving experience, with its powerful BMW V12 engine.

“I just loved it, especially in the wet,” said JJ Lehto. “It had loads of traction, lots of torque – no problem.”

A searing night-time stint from the Finn, combined with the No51 David Price Racing F1 GTR suffering a clutch problem, meant the No59 car moved into the lead, and never lost it. McLaren took a famous win, and historically sealed the Triple Crown.