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).