Graham McRae

Full Name:
Graham Peter McRae
Born:
5th March 1940 (Age 79)
Wellington, North Island
Nationality:
New Zealander
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

Graham McRae’s Grand Prix career is one of the shortest on record but that is no reason to dismiss a talented racing driver. The New Zealander was also a star of Formula 5000 – winning on three continents. He was a supremely confident man who was nicknamed "Cassius" – as in Cassius Clay (Mohammed Ali) – due to his pre-event talk.

Early racing career

The young McRae had wanted to be a fighter pilot but his father persuaded him to study engineering instead. By the time he graduated from University, McRae was already building his first car using an Austin engine and Maserati chassis. He raced a Brabham BT6 in the Tasman series from 1968 and introduced his own McRae GM2 chassis a year later.

He won New Zealand’s Driver to Europe scholarship with the car and briefly raced Frank Williams’ Brabham BT23C-Cosworth in Formula 2 during 1969. His Tasman success began in 1970 with a McLaren M10A-Chevrolet – McRae winning twice and crowned New Zealand Gold Star Champion. He was a front-runner in that year’s European F5000 Championship and won the final round at Brands Hatch.

Tasman champion from 1971 to 1973 – at first with a McLaren M10B and then running the McRae GM1 chassis – he added the North American title in 1972 as well. 1973 was not his most successful F5000 season but it was a year of significant one-offs.

Indianapolis 500 and Formula 1

The Granatelli brothers arranged for McRae to drive Pat Patrick’s STP Eagle-Offenhauser in the 1973 Indianapolis 500 and he was named Rookie of the Year despite retiring before half distance. He then made his only Formula 1 championship start in the British GP but his Williams IR01-Ford retired on the opening lap when the throttle stuck open.

He won the 1973 Australian GP with the F5000 McRae GM2-Chevrolet and later sold his factory in Poole, Dorset to Penske Racing as the basis for its planned F1 team. McRae continued to race in F5000 with less success before switching to Can-Am. He did win both Australian Gold Star Championship and that country’s GP in 1978 with the McRae GM3-Chevrolet.

Two unsuccessful Champ Car starts during the 1980s followed before he retired from the sport. McRae recently fell ill, especially when he did not follow doctor’s orders regarding his medication. However, he has recovered sufficiently to start rebuilding a McRae chassis for historic events.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
1987 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
NFW Racing
1 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1984 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
BC Pace Racing
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1978 Australian Gold Star Championship 1st -
1976 SCCA/USAC F5000 Championship
Graham McRae
Bob Smith
1 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1975 SCCA/USAC F5000 Championship
Eddie Lewis Racing
5 0 0 0
0% win rate
17th 7
1975 Peter Stuyvesant $100,000 Tasman Cup
Graham McRae
5 (1) 4 1 1
20% win rate
7th 12
1974 SCCA/USAC F5000 Championship
Graham McRae
McCormack Racing
Chuck Jones Racing
6 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
8th 19
1974 Peter Stuyvesant $100,000 Tasman Cup
Graham McRae
8 3 2 0
0% win rate
7th 13
1973 F1 World Championship
Frank Williams Racing Cars
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1973 USAC National Championship
Patrick Racing
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1973 Rothmans European F5000 Championship
Graham McRae
9 (3) 1 1 1
12% win rate
14th 28
1973 SCCA L&M F5000 Championship
Graham McRae
7 0 0 0
0% win rate
22nd 5
1973 Tasman Cup
Grid International
8 4 5 3
38% win rate
1st 40
1972 Rothmans European F5000 Championship
Graham McRae
9 (2) 4 6 5
56% win rate
3rd 57
1972 SCCA L&M Continental F5000 Championship
Graham McRae
8 0 5 3
38% win rate
1st 87 (90)
1972 Tasman Cup
Grid International
8 3 4 4
50% win rate
1st 39
1971 Rothmans F5000 Championship
Graham McRae
7 (2) 0 3 3
43% win rate
6th 33
1971 Tasman Championship
Graham McRae
7 2 5 3
43% win rate
1st 35
1970 Guards F5000 Championship
Graham McRae
13 (2) 0 5 1
8% win rate
6th 36 (37)
1970 Tasman Championship
Graham McRae
6 (1) 1 2 2
34% win rate
5th 18
1970 New Zealand Gold Star 1st -
1969 European F2 Trophy
Frank Williams Racing Cars
2 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1969 Rothmans Tasman Championship 4 0 0 0
0% win rate
13th 1
1968 Tasman Cup 3 0 0 0
0% win rate
0