Phil Kerr

Born in Auckland, New Zealand in 1934, Phil Kerr first met Bruce McLaren at a hillclimb event in 1951 both were racing Austin Sevens. While racing Kerr also studied accountancy and business management and when he left college he joined the New Zealand Forest Service before moving to work for a small engineering business in Auckland. This handled the sale of Buckler cars in New Zealand and Kerr was soon racing these and at the same time moved up through the ranks to become the secretary of the Auckland Car Club - the biggest automobile club in New Zealand - and a member of the board of the New Zealand International Grand Prix Association. In 1958 he was one of the names put forward to be New Zealand's Driver to Europe but was beaten to the prize by McLaren. In Europe McLaren mentioned to Jack Brabham that Kerr might be the man to run the Australian's businesses and in 1959 Kerr moved to England to help Jack establish a headquarters in Chessington. This consisted of a petrol station and offices but in the years that followed expanded into a big racing car manufacturing business in the earlly 1960s. One of Kerr's major contributions was to bring Denny Hulme to Brabham's attention and he managed Hulme's career until Denny won the World Championship in 1967. The pair then moved to McLaren where Kerr became joint managing-director with McLaren. After McLaren was killed in 1970 Kerr played an important role in holding the team together and he continued to be a major player at McLaren in the early 1970s, although he was edged out of the team to run the semi-works Yardley operation in 1974 after Marlboro came in as the team's chief backer. At the end of that year Yardley withdrew and Hulme retired and Kerr decided to head back to New Zealand, where he established and developed the McLaren Group of companies, initially as a specialist automotive engineering frim but more recently as a business consultancy, project management and IT firm.