Teddy Mayer died in his sleep at his home in Surrey last Friday night. Mayer, 73, was one of the founders in 1962 of Bruce McLaren Motor Racing with Bruce McLaren, Tyler Alexander and Wally Willmott. After McLaren’s death in 1970 Mayer and Alexander ran McLaren’s F1, Can-Am and Indy car teams through 1980 and the team won many major races and championships in all three categories, including the F1 World Championship with Emerson Fittipaldi in 1974 and James Hunt in ‘76. The McLaren team also won the Indy 500 with Johnny Rutherford in 1974 and ‘76.
Born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Mayer studied law at Cornell University and went racing with younger brother Timmy and Peter Revson. Timmy Mayer and Revson raced Formula Junior cars and small-bore sports/racers and Mayer started the 1962 United States GP at Watkins Glen aboard a Cooper. At the end of 1963 Mayer joined Bruce McLaren’s new team with fellow American Tyler Alexander and McLaren and Mayer raced a pair of McLaren-modified Coopers in the ‘64 Tasman Series. But Mayer was killed at Longford, Tasmania in February of ‘64.
Following his brother’s death Teddy Mayer settled into the sport for the long haul. He continued as a partner in Bruce McLaren Motor Racing working as McLaren’s business manager through Bruce’s death in the spring of 1970. At the time the team was at the top of its powers in the original, unlimited Can-Am series and was just beginning to make its mark in Formula 1 and Indy car racing.
Mayer was a no-nonsense character who approached the sport as a business. Having lived through the death of his brother and Bruce McLaren he had little sympathy for most drivers, viewing the majority of them as replaceable components.
Mayer and Alexander left McLaren in 1982 following Ron Dennis’s takeover of the team. The pair formed a CART team called Mayer Motor Racing for the 1984 season and Tom Sneva won three races and finished second in the championship to Mario Andretti after taking the title battle down to the final race in Las Vegas. In 1985 and ‘86 Mayer and Alexander joined Carl Haas to run Haas’s Ford-powered F1 team until sponsor Beatrice withdrew.
Alexander went on to run the Newman/Haas CART Indy car team in 1987 before rejoining McLaren where he worked until last winter. Mayer took a year off before joining Roger Penske’s team. Into the early years of the 21st century Mayer assisted Penske Cars’ managing director Nick Goozee in overseeing the running of Penske’s Indy car-building facility in Dorset and also worked at the races with the team’s engineering team. Mayer continued as a consultant for Penske through 2007.
Mayer lived most of his adult life in England. He and his wife Sally, who were divorced in 1993, raised two children, Tim and Anne, both of whom live in the United States. Tim runs IMSA, the sanctioning body for the American Le Mans Series. Our sympathies go out to Sally, Tim, Anne and the entire Mayer family.