Born in Port Pirie Australia, Bob McLean migrated to Vancouver, Canada in 1957 and went to work for Fogg Motors.
He had raced motorcycles, but quit after his brother died in a racing accident in 1957.
Bob McLean started racing in an MGA in 1957 before attending Robert Walker's school for sports car drivers in 1961. In 1962 he raced a Cooper Formula Junior and an Aston Martin. Driving the Cooper for just the second time, he took wins at the International Conference of Sports Car Clubs Races at the Westwood Circuit in British Columbiain in the all-modified and formula libre races.
McLean did all his owm mechanical work to stretch every dolar and, after a season of teething troubles in 62, in 1963 he scored 19 wins in 22 races in western Canada and the northwest US.
In 1964, McLean bought a Lotus 23B with a 1.6 lire Cosworth engine. McLean had originally hoped for a Brabham BT8 as he was not fond of the Lotus marque. He raced it a few times that year before finally getting it sorted to his liking.
In 1965 he set his sights on the Canadian Championship and attended every race, travelling some 57,000 miles in the process. The championship was divided into two classes - under and over 2 litres - with the top driver in each class scoring maximum points. McLean dominated the smaller class, and also scored well in the overall results with a couple of seconds and a third, taking the Championship. In between races with the Lotus, he also managed to win the West Coast Sedan Championship at the wheel of a Mustang.
It seemed that getting a drive in 1966 with the privateer Comstock Racing team in a Ford GT-40 for the Sebring 12 hours was his big break. But it ended in tragedy when he crashed and died during the race.
Comstock entered two Ford GT40 in that event, and McLean was to share his car with fellow Canadian Jean Oulette. In the fourth hour Oulette, then running in thirteenth, pitted. The car was serviced and McLean took over driver duties. Soon after rejoining teh race the GT40 lost a wheel going into the hairpin. It rolled three times, hit an unprotected telegraph pole and exploded in flames. The fire was intence, fuelled by the magnesium chassis and by the full tanks of high-octane fuel, and rescue workers had no chance of getting poor McLean out of the flaming wreckage.
The Comstock withdrew its other car from the competition. Later in that same race four spectators were killed when the Porsche 906P driven by Don Wester left the road after colliding with the spinning Ferrari 365P2 of Mario Andretti, and Sebring security standards came under heavy criticism after these accidents.