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A great loss – Tyler Alexander

January 7, 2016
Tyler Monaco 2009

Tyler Alexander enjoys a glass of wine at Monaco in 2009; by that time he was retired but still revered by all at McLaren. Photo by Terry “Piggy” Malone

This is a sad day in the world of motorsport as Tyler James Alexander has died. He was 75 years old and spent much, no, most of his career with McLaren Racing. Initially as mechanic to racer Timmy Mayer, the  brother of businessman Teddy Mayer, Tyler left his Massachusetts roots to travel the world, finding his natural home in England.

It was Tyler, Teddy and Bruce that founded McLaren Racing in 1963. When McLaren died,  Mayer and Alexander kept the team, its cars alive and thriving. Together they made McLaren Racing a success story. They grew the brand, winning in Formula One, Formula 5000, CanAm and in various iterations of Indy car racing. During minimal his time away from McLaren, Tyler worked with Newman/Haas Racing and its short-lived Beatrice Racing F1 entry.

After that it was back to McLaren, working with new owner Ron Dennis, where Tyler stayed until mandatory retirement age five years ago. He teamed with the great Ayrton Senna, with every Finn that raced for the team, reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton and, while known for being brutally blunt, he was cherished as a great manager of men and machines. His sense of humor belied his ancestry as Tyler Alexander had the kind of wry playfulness that spoke to Britain, not the United States.

Tyler’s practical capabilities and innate mechanical knowledge expanded with technology; Tyler Alexander never ceased to learn. He organized men and materials into winning race cars and evinced lifetime loyalty from everyone that ever worked with him.

Once out of the F1 arena, Tyler Alexander turned back to one of his first loves, photography. As he worked as a mechanic and team manager Tyler also kept a camera at his side and his photographs have enabled many a McLaren car owner to restore their vehicles. They’ve also shown the simpler eras of F5000, CanAm, F1 and Indy car racing. In many images Tyler received the international sign of “respect” from his subjects as he photographed them.

Tyler Alexander had been ill since late 2014 and his life partner, Jane Nottage, made known that he was failing on her birthday late last month. His death was announced by McLaren and reported on the McLaren Formula One website.

To say that Tyler Alexander was integral to the early and continuing success of McLaren’s Formula One team is an understatement. He set the bar high for all that tried to follow him; it’s become quite evident no one can remake themselves as Tyler Alexander. He was an original.

By Anne Proffit

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2 Comments
  1. Dear A:

    You and the whole racing world, have my sympathy for the loss. dru

  2. thanks – I’m in such pain I know I didn’t write it as I wanted – don’t know if I ever will but have some great memories I’ll keep with me… a

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