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Author Topic: Mike Hawthorn  (Read 702 times)
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pomme homme
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« on: December 27, 2012, 21:28:21 PM »

Although he was born in Yorkshire and was really a Surrey man, he had Sussex connections. He was educated at Ardingly College; made his 'racing debut' at the 1950 Brighton Speed Trials in a 1934 Riley Ulster Imp, winning the 1100 cc Sports Car Class; and won the 1951 Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Trophy at Goodwood in a 1500 cc Riley TT. Thereafter Sussex became simply a part of his history. He made his Formula One debut in 1952. Probably his nadir was the tragic 1955 Le Mans 24 Hour race. He won the 1958 Formula One Drivers' Championship, albeit in somewhat controversial circumstances. Sadly the following year, at the age of only 29, he was killed when his 3.4 Jaguar crashed on the Guildford By-pass.
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Man of Kent1
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« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2012, 22:57:04 PM »

A hero of mine!  I was devastated when I heard of his death Cry .
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John
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« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2014, 15:15:53 PM »

Sussex educated, and resident in Surrey at the time of his demise, Mike Hawthorn, the 'Gay Cavalier' of motor racing who was noted for wearing a bow tie whilst competing (as well as for his heavy drinking), died on the A3 near Guildford on 22 January 1959. Driving a 3.4 litre Jaguar, he had been 'dicing' with his friend Robert Walker who was driving a Mercedes, but clipped a bollard and lost control of his car. Although it was an accident, I'm afraid I have no sympathy for people who kill themselves while playing silly-buggers - and at least he was the only fatality, unlike in the 1955 Le Mans when his antics caused the deaths of 84 people..

Hawthorn was well known in Farnham, using his celebrity status to make a success of his Tourist Trophy Garage that sold exotic cars such as Ferrari and Jaguar, and there is a road in Farnham named after him.

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pomme homme
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« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2014, 22:53:46 PM »

I'm afraid I have no sympathy for people who kill themselves while playing silly-buggers - and at least he was the only fatality, unlike in the 1955 Le Mans when his antics caused the deaths of 84 people

Nor do I have any sympathy for those who drive recklessly. But for that, Mike Hawthorn paid the ultimate price. However that does not diminish his achievements on the track. There he was one of - or perhaps the - greatest motor racing drivers of the fifties.

As to the 1955 24 Heures du Mans, I do feel that, John, that you do Hawthorn a disservice. Most motor racing historians accept that Hawthorn was not the proximate cause of or to blame for the collision between Macklin's Healey and Levegh's Mercedes, that caused the latter to catapult into the crowd causing so many deaths. On the subject wikipedia - which I do not necessarily advance as an authoritative source - states:

'The official inquiry into the accident ruled that [the] Jaguar [driven by Hawthorn] was not responsible for the crash, and that it was merely a racing incident. The death of the spectators was blamed on inadequate safety standards for track design, leading to a ban on motorsports in France [amongst other countries].....until the tracks could be brought to a higher safety standard'.

I have undertaken not insignificant research into this subject in the course of my motor racing journalism, not least for the purpose of my article on the end of the original 1950s Bressuire GPs (a subject close to my heart, Bressuire being my nearest large town and the location of the GP Historique, over the last nine years, which commemorates the original street racing and on which I've reported extensively).
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Ron Stilwell
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« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2014, 23:59:32 PM »

I agree that the terrible losses in the Le Mans accident was largely due to the design of the track.  When I was riding, many years ago, it had gone the other way, for instance at the Crystal Palace circuit the spectators were protected by massive concrete walls, great to keep them alive, but often disastrous to riders who 'dropped it'.
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John
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« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2016, 09:43:52 AM »

Mike Hawthorn's headstone at Farnham Cemetery.

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pomme homme
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« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2016, 10:05:28 AM »

With the passage of more than half a century, how the import of certain words has changed.
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