The only problem with exceptional dinners is that they are exceptional and as a consequence very difficult to beat. I am sat here this morning wondering how on earth I beat the #McLarenDinner we had last night.
My train left York at around 11:51 yesterday morning getting me into London Kings Cross for 13:57 – I hopped on the tube to Waterloo and arrived just in time to get the connection to Woking – I hooked up with Stefan Davy from IoTUniversity.com and met Craig Edmunds for the first time whilst travelling to Woking. We arrived at 14:45 and our taxis were waiting to whisk us away to the McLaren Technology Centre which is around 5 or 10 minutes from the train station, where we were greeted by George Farquhar (VIP and Affinity Relations Manager for McLaren Automative Ltd).
George had agreed to take no more than 10 of us on a tour of the facility but 20 had reserved tickets for the #McLarenDinner so after publishing the tickets those attending the tour of the factory got tickets on a first come, first serve basis – after a little fighting the group of ten was made up of myself, James Barrington-Brown, Craig Edmunds, David Peacock, Craig Vallis, Richard Carman, Tim Fuell, Stefan Davy, David Pitcher and Graham Perkins.
George gave us an extraordinary tour of the facility – McLaren Automotive reminds me of MIT in the US, not that I have ever been to MIT but I assume if I were to go it would look something like this – the walls are grey, the corridors are long – almost reminiscent of an alien spaceship – you would be forgiven for thinking that the entire building is actually some sort of doctors waiting room – the conditions are sterile to say the least.
I assume the building is designed to be so bleak because of the central characters which are of course the collection of stunning cars dating back to the very early days of the McLaren Automative Company – where it all started, the route it took and how it eventually began creating road cars. To see the cars that Hamilton, Senna and other famous drivers raced in, to touch these modern day wonders is truly sensational, you do not need bright walls and coloured carpets when you have waiting room artwork like this.
We wandered past every car getting a full history from George, his knowledge is impeccable and like a true professional he was quick to put us at ease, answering questions directly and helping us explore the connectivity of the car – connectivity that was first used in the McLaren F1 road car – if you plugged a telephone line in to the car then it would transmit data back to Mission Control – in fact one owner who will remain anonymous showed the team back at Mission Control that when he drove between his offices, his average speed in the F1 was 200mph.
We wrapped up the tour and grabbed taxis back to Woking from where we jumped on a train to Waterloo and took the tube across town to Knightsbridge where McLaren London hosted us in style. The remaining ten joined our group taking us to 20 in total including Erkan Ali, Brett Avery, Dan Fox, Euan Hankey, Dominic Mason, Baiju Solanki, Jonathan Tooze and Nicholas Wrathall.
Chris Hruskova had prepared a wonderful meal for us but before we tucked in I interviewed Ben Bradford, one of the original members of the F1 Road Car team who had travelled from Ascot to see us, a pivotal car and team with a RRP of over $1M, the most advanced automobile ever – we heard about the McLaren dream, the racing history and how Ben had arrived at McLaren having started out as a YTS student. Just goes to show…
Following some delicious food we spoke with Euan Hankey, McLaren professional driver – how Euan spends his time flying around the world looking after customers and teaching them how to drive some of the cars they buy between weekend racing events. It is extraordinary to me how McLaren is able to hire such amazing talent and keep them all under one roof in such a competitive environment, it must be passion – it can’t just be about the money.
Finally, we spoke to David Richmond (VIP Manager at McLaren London) who explained the commercials behind the car, the types of customers purchasing the latest releases and how McLaren shapes up when compared to other brands.
We wrapped up at around 9:10 for people to catch trains as normal, everyone left the building and after an amazing day the lights dimmed. One I won’t forget in a hurry.
Not sure, how I beat it though.