The Story of Ronald Dennis: From Mechanic to Millionaire Owner of F1 Team

On this day, June 1 in the year 1947, the founder of the McLaren Technology Group was born in Surrey, England. His name is Ronald Dennis, a mechanic who rose to become one of the richest individuals in the United Kingdom with an estimated wealth of £450 million in 2019, according to Sunday Times Rich List.

Ronald Dennis
Ronald Dennis (Credit: wiki commons)

Dennis studied motor vehicle engineering at Guildford Technical College. Initially, he worked as mechanic for the Cooper Formula One Team and then for Sir Jack Brabham. In 1971, he founded his own team calling it Rondel Racing. At first, money was a problem but soon he found several sponsorships including Marlboro. In 1981, Dennis gained control of McLaren Team with the help of Philip Morris.

In 2009, Dennis announced he was stepping down from active management of the Formula One Team in order to pursue his other business interests particularly McLaren Automotive which he intends to build as a standalone car manufacturer. In 2011, Prime Minister David Cameroon opened McLaren production facility in Woking, Surrey near London.

After 36 years at the helm of McLaren Group, he was forced to step down as chief executive in 2016, following a two-year power struggle with the other major stockholders namely Mumtalakat, Bahrain’s sovereign wealth fund, and TAG, the Luxembourg investment group run by Mansour Ojjeh. Although disappointed, he announced that he intends to keep his shares and his board seat in the company in order to preserve the gains he made through the years. This included winning 20 Formula One world championships and growing the company into an 850 million-pound ($1 billion) a year business with 3,500 employees. However in 2017, Ron Dennis finally ended his 37-year association with McLaren by selling his remaining shares.

Aside from his involvement in the McLaren Technology Group and the McLaren Automotive, Dennis also founded Absolute Taste, a catering firm which was later sold to One Event Management in December 2016. In 2000 Dennis was made a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

Dennis married Lisa, a writer of children’s books but they divorced after 22 years. They have three children.

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