Even in the immediate glow of stepping back from racing, Bräck didn’t rest. He established a project to help a promising young fellow Swede, Marcus Ericsson, progress in his racing career. Today, Ericsson races for Sauber in F1. Bräck also got involved on the board of an investment organisation, relishing the change to mix with and learn from big business brains. “I enjoy all these projects. I like working with clever people, and the fact that they can open doors to more surprises,” he says. “The harder I work, the more happy coincidences I seem to enjoy.”
The happy coincidence that led to his role at McLaren began when he was asked to demonstrate a 1993 Williams at the Goodwood Festival. The team needed a period driver, and Damon Hill and Alain Prost couldn’t make one of the days. Bräck had tested the car in its heyday so got the call-up. He made friends both with the car’s engineering team and the Goodwood organisers, and so it was he started driving more at Goodwood events, and so it was he was at that dinner where he met Flewitt.
Now, he sees his brief as simple, even if the work to achieve it is mind- bogglingly tough: “Every car we make must be linear in its responses and predictable, so a driver of any talent can push to their own limits confidently, knowing what will happen. All our cars have different envelopes of performance – a 570S is very different from a Senna, of course – but the fundamental point is the same: the car must give the driver confidence. It is only the envelopes in which the cars operate that change: one is focused around a drive from London to Milan, the other for a racetrack. But both can be used for either.”
Already, Bräck is revelling in being back at the heart of a team environment: “I love working with skilled, dedicated people, and being able to use my 30 years of experience of working with top engineers is a pleasure. The warmth and genuine love of the job among everyone at McLaren is so strong. The challenge is, of course, huge.
A race car you perfect for a track, a high-performance road car has to perform wherever it goes. Likewise, a race driver would never lift off mid-corner. But an everyday road car driver? We have to factor that in.”Chances are, then, Bräck is going to be busy for a while longer yet. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Kenny Bräck, age 52: 1996: F3000 runner-up, F1 tester Williams, Ligier and Arrows; 1998: Indy Racing League Champion; 1999: Indy 500 winner; 2009: only rookie to win the X Games; 2011: wins RAC Tourist Trophy at Goodwood; 2013: wins Whitsun Trophy at Goodwood.
Where it all started: