Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest

Sunday, January 22, 2017


McLaren road car at the McLaren Technology Center
Road & Track tells us about the pressure differential in the McLaren headquarters building that keeps the smell of food inside the cafeteria. Okay, I suppose you could do that, and it might be a good thing in a workplace, but having to go through an airlock to get your lunch . . . Whatever.

McLaren Can-Am Racecar circa 1970
When I was a teenager with a driver's license, my friends and I would go to the Mid-Ohio racetrack to watch the Can-Am / Group 7 cars race. In those days Jim Hall and his Chaparral and McLaren were the ones to watch. Their cars were built along the same lines as the Ford GT40, except without a roof. The important part, as far as I was concerned, was that they were all using big, 7 liter, all aluminum V-8 engines from Detroit. America, hoo-rah!

Bruce McLaren died on the racetrack in 1970. The company he founded has gone on and is something of a powerhouse in the high-performance automotive world.

Watching an episode of The Grand Tour a couple of weeks ago and they're talking about some exotic mobile, and Richard Hammond mentions that the people who buy these million-dollar go-fast toys have, on average, 64 other cars, which means they need a warehouse to keep them in and a staff to wrangle them (keep them clean and prepped and ready for the next time you want to take one for a spin). Or maybe you don't need a warehouse, you can just distribute them among your umpteen houses with their ten car garages. Whatever. You get the picture, we're talking the upper echelons of the one percenters here.

Now you might think that all this is a ridiculous waste of time and money, and from a pragmatic, go-to-work-and-save-your-pennies point of view, it is. On the other hand, all this activity employs a fair number of talented people, and most of their work is being done by hand, so they aren't putting their efforts into mass producing stuff that will put other producers out of work. It's really part of the entertainment industry, which in some respects is kind of like the defense industry: it absorbs a large chunk of money and produces very exotic stuff that no one really needs, but everyone wants, sort of. I mean it would be nice to have your own supersonic jet aircraft / race car, wouldn't it?

And just for grins, we have Tooned:

McLaren Tooned - Season 1 - Episode 1 - Wheel Nuts

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button are real-life race car drivers. Alexander Armstrong is an actor. Not often you see race-car drivers with speaking roles, or at least that's the way it used to be. I suppose with zillions of dollars at stake, you might invest a little effort in polishing their public personas. And make no mistake, zillions of dollars are at stake. McLaren was fined $100 million for some kind skullduggery. The company is private, so they don't have to tell anybody how much they are worth, but I suspect it is somewhere north of $2 billion.

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