My Experience at the MTC
A few months ago, I asked members of this forum for assistance in obtaining a tour at the McLaren Technology Center. At first I did not get much of a response, but about a week after the initial posting, I received a rather ambiguous private message. The message read, “Let me know when you would like to visit and I'll make it happen. Honest.” I was a bit skeptical, but after about 6 weeks of correspondence with this anonymous person, I figured the invitation was too elaborate to be a hoax. With that being said, I did acknowledge the fact that this might all be a constructed by some mentally unstable/sociopathic forum user. Regardless, I flew to London and travelled to the MTC. The taxi just made it past the McLaren Sign when it was stopped by the guard post. I jumped out of the taxi and approached the small hypermodern building only to be greeted by four guards. I told them my name, however, I was told that my name was not on the visitation list, and that I should leave. However, after traveling this far, I was not about to turn back. After 15 minutes of making calls, one of the guards asked, “What about Frank Stephenson?” All of the guards quietly began to laugh. When I inquired about their laughter they replied, “Well he is a bit crazy, and certainly strange enough to let you in.” The guards finally called Frank, and he confirmed that he had set up the tour. I was elated and quite shocked to hear who our host was. I’ve known who Frank Stephenson was for quite some time, and loved much of his previous work. Cough cough… (Maserati MC12) Anyway, I walked into the pristine white MTC building and took a glass elevator up to the second floor. I was directed into a small reception room, and after 10 minutes of anxious waiting, Frank walked in. He was extremely kind and jovial, but had to attend a meeting, so another member of the design team took me around. At first, he took me to the Boulevard, and then to the 650s showroom. However, this was not the main attraction. Our guide went up the a touchscreen monitor and punched in a code. Then the entire back wall of the 650s showroom evaporated. He closed the wall behind us, and interacted with another touchpad. Lights came on, and a massive carbon fiber turntable with a yellow p1 became visible. I looked at the car for over 15 minutes and traced the airflow over its beautiful flowing geometry. I loved the experience. After that, we walked down the Boulevard and saw the evolution of F1 and its cars. I also took a look at the McLaren F1, which was amazing in itself. We walked to the Wind tunnel next, and took a look at some of the scale models. Finally, we took a short walk to the production center. There, we traced the growth of the P1 and 650s from carbon fiber fuselages to full developed racing machines. After that we met up with Frank once again, and we spoke about a myriad of topics for the next hour. At the very end of the trip, Frank took us to a number of extremely interesting places, which I am not at liberty to talk about. Regardless of that, the entire experience was extraordinary and one very memorable day.