Tyler Alexander, one of the McLaren F1 team’s founding members, is in hospital in a serious condition after falling ill.
Born in Massachusets, Alexander studied aviation engineering before switching to motorsport in the early 1960s, where he became an engineer for Texan oil millionaire John Mecom’s sportscar team.
That led to him making connections with Teddy Mayer, who was running Peter Revson’s Formula Junior outfit, and in 1963 Revson and Mayer headed to Europe, taking Alexander with them.
Mayer formed a partnership with Bruce McLaren, helping the New Zealander set up his eponymous racing team in 1963. Alexander became a mechanic with the team.
Alexander would remain with the team – through its Mayer and subsequent Ron Dennis eras – and progressed through the ranks, serving stints as the team’s chief mechanic, then chief engineer, and ultimately as a director of the company.
His role expanded to include McLaren’s US empire, where McLaren was particularly successful in CanAm Racing with a record 43 race wins and five successive titles between 1967-1971 for McLaren, Revson and Denny Hulme.
Thereafter, the team also concentrated on USAC racing, claiming two Indianapolis 500 wins and one outright USAC title.
Alexander was summoned back to Europe in 1979 to help improve the F1 team’s waning fortunes after its 1976 triumph with James Hunt.
When the team merged with Ron Dennis’ Project 4 in the early 1980s, Alexander acquired a small shareholding in the team, although he sold it to Dennis at the end of 1982 and followed Mayer – who had been booted out of the team – back to the USA.
He and Mayer founded Mayer Motor Racing and their driver Ton Sneva almost won the 1984 IndyCar title in the team’s first season, but the team soon closed down as Mayer and Alexander returned to F1, this time with the short-lived Beatrice-Haas Lola F1 team which had former F1 champion Alan Jones as its lead driver in 1985-6.
After a brief stint heading BMW’s IMSA team in the late 1980s, Alexander was rehired by Dennis and remained with the team until he retired in 2009.
A McLaren spokesperson confirmed Alexander’s hospitalisation, although declined to give further information about the details or seriousness of his condition.
“We can confirm that Tyler has been taken ill,” the spokesman said.
“He was admitted to hospital last week, is undergoing tests, and is receiving the best possible care.”
Image via McLaren F1 Team
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