Our Blog 1/2024

Look out, here comes Woosh-Bonk!

Properly it’s a McLaren-Oldsmobile M3A, the very first McLaren single-seater. And the driver isn’t a Chap, it is in fact Patsy Burt.

29-Jan-24 historicracing.com


Patsy had already made a name for herself in British hillclimbing and sprinting, and as early as 1961 had taken on a full season of the European Mountain Championship in her pale-blue Cooper-Climax.


But by 1966 she craved more power, and approached her friend Bruce McLaren with a view towards fulfilling this ambition. McLaren proposed a purpose built car based on components, including the engine, from his M1A Can-Am sportscar design. And with 360bhp from it’s Traco prepared, 4.4-Litre Oldsmobile V/8, it would prove a very effective device indeed.

Patsy won the Brighton Speed Trials in 1968 with the car, setting a record time that would stand until 1975, and in 1970 she won the RAC Sprint Championship, becoming the first woman to win a British motorsporting title of any kind. With that in her pocket, she retired, and with her so did Whoosh-Bonk.

The car’s nick-name came from Bruce McLaren, who apparently favoured the expression as his equivalent of QED. As in “Whoosh-Bonk, it’s done”. Patsy was amused by his use of the term, and the name stuck.

In later years she claimed that she was plagued by Ron Dennis, who was desperate to get his hands on the car in order to complete his extensive collection of McLaren products. Each year he would knock on her door and offer more money, but Patsy wouldn’t sell. In 2001 though, Ron’s long suspected association with the Grim-Reaper eventually paid-off. Patsy popped-her-clogs and he finally got his hands the car.

The notice of Patsy Burt’s death in the Daily Telegraph read; “Retired on her 73rd lap, due to mechanical failure”.

Of the three M3As built, the first chassis went to Dr Harry Zweiffel (Switzerland), the second to Patsy and the third went to MGM and was used in the making of the film 'Grand Prix'