Formula 1 Teams Mike Hawthorn
Races: 47Mike Hawthorn: A True Yorkshire TerrierBy Jeremy McMullenPage: 1 2 next >>
Career Points: 113
In the early morning hours of January 22nd, 1959, with the wind howling, Mike Hawthorn would finally come up against a challenger that would end up being more than his equal. And in those early morning hours along the A3 near Guildford, the British people would lose its first-ever World Champion.
Born in Mexborough, Yorkshire in 1929, John Michael Hawthorn would certainly have a lot in common with the small breed of dog. Some would say he was arrogant. He would also be very independent and rather difficult. But he would also do and say a lot of things that would make him no stranger to controversy.
As a young boy, Mike would be introduced to motor racing by observing races at the famed Brooklands motor racing circuit during the days before World War II. Although born in Mexborough, Mike would still be surrounded with tuned motorbikes and cars as a result of his father Leslie who was a trained engineer and raced and tuned cars and motorbikes on the side.
Then, in the early 1930s, Leslie would take his family and would move to Farnham in Surrey. There, with partner Paddy Johnstone, Leslie would open the Tourist Trophy Garage. By the later-‘30s Mike would be at his father's garage each and every day. Despite being less than 10 years of age Mike would still be seen helping his father around the garage.
If Mike wasn't at the garage he would be at Brooklands watching the intense action. Speaking about this experience Hawthorn would relate: 'The first motor races I ever saw were at Brooklands. I was only a very small boy, but to me it was heaven to watch the cars thundering round those towering cliffs of concrete where the banking curved under the Members' Bridge, to wander along the lines of brightly coloured cars in their stalls in the paddock, to jump as an exhaust snarled suddenly and to sniff the aroma of castor oil.'
It was clear that Hawthorn's greatest education would be in the field of motor racing. And after Leslie took Mike around Brooklands in a 2.0-liter Riley, Mike determined from that moment on that he would become a racing driver. This would never show up more vividly than in school where he would be never more than an average student. It was clear that athletics and sports were of greater importance to the boy.
|By the time Mike was ten years of age the Second World War was just heating up and many a man would be called into service of his country in order to stem the German advance. Meanwhile, Mike would be still more concerned with motor racing than with conquering nations. |
|1958||156||Ferrari 143 2.4 V6|
|1958||Ferrari 246 F1||Ferrari 143 2.4 V6|
|1957||Ferrari 801||Ferrari DS50 2.5 V8|
|1956||VW 2||Vanwall 254 2.5 L4|
|1956||Maserati 250F||Maserati 250F1 2.5 L6, BRM P25 2.5 L4|
|1955||VW 55||Vanwall 254 2.5 L4|
|1955||Lancia D50||Ferrari 555 2.5 L4, Lancia DS50 2.5 V8|
|1955||555||Ferrari 555 2.5 L4, Lancia DS50 2.5 V8|
|1955||Ferrari 625||Ferrari 555 2.5 L4, Lancia DS50 2.5 V8|
|1954||Ferrari 500 F2||Ferrari 625 2.5 L4, Ferrari 554 2.5 L4, Ferrari 500 2.0 L4|
|1954||Ferrari 553||Ferrari 625 2.5 L4, Ferrari 554 2.5 L4, Ferrari 500 2.0 L4|
|1954||Ferrari 625||Ferrari 625 2.5 L4, Ferrari 554 2.5 L4, Ferrari 500 2.0 L4|
|1953||Ferrari 500 F2||Ferrari 500 2.0 L4, Ferrari 553 2.0 L4|
|1953||553||Ferrari 500 2.0 L4, Ferrari 553 2.0 L4|
|1952||Cooper T20 MKI||Bristol BS1 2.0 L6|
|1952||Cooper T20 MKI||Bristol BS1 2.0 L6|
After war's end, Hawthorn would go to work at Dennis Bros of Guildford. Dennis Bros of Guildford would actually employ another man by the name of Alan Brown. Brown would also be a regular competitor in grand prix racing during the early 1950s and would actually earn Cooper their first World Championship points. Hawthorn and Brown would compete against each other regularly and would even drive the same type of chassis.
But that would still be a few years away. In the meantime, Hawthorn would work as an apprentice. In order to get to work, Mike would drive a 1939 Triumph his father had had rebuilt for him.
But while Mike would become well known for his talents on four wheels, his first success would actually come on two. In 1947 he would have enough money to buy a BSA trial bike and would soon decide to start racing. In his first-ever event, a novice cup race, Mike would take the victory. This would be the encouragement Mike would need to focus on becoming an engineering student in order to prepare race cars and motorbikes, and even to go racing. However, there was one big problem—studies.Every son needs a father, and it was time for Leslie to step into the situation and provide his son some guidance. Realizing that his son's talents lay in driving and not in engineering, Leslie would provide the means for his son to go racing. And in 1950, Mike would be successfully competing in Rileys, Ulster Imps and a Sprite. It was clear, just I during the 1950 season that Mike was a natural racer and deserved to graduate into the higher formulas.
But then conditions would open the door for the big blonde racing driver. At the end of the 1951 Formula One World Championship season Alfa Romeo would withdraw from the series leaving only Ferrari as the main factory effort. The World Championship needed to reduce costs and increase competition. It needed time to come up with a winning formula. And in the meantime, Formula 2 had just what the World Championship would need. This would open a door of opportunity to Mike that likely would have been at least a year further off.
Heading into the 1952 season, Mike would drive for Robert Chase. Chase would purchase a Cooper-Bristol T20 for Hawthorn to use and the exceptional abilities of the then 23 year old would go on full display.
With the help of his father preparing the car, Mike would make his World Championship debut at the Belgian Grand Prix in 1952. And in the rain, he would manage to come through to score an incredible 4th place result. Just a few months later Hawthorn would score an incredible podium result in his home grand prix. The 3rd place result Alberto Ascari and Piero Taruffi would gain a lot of attention. But it would be the Daily Mail Trophy race at Boreham that would draw the attention of more than one team manager.
In the wet conditions of the Daily Mail Trophy race Mike would wield his Formula 2 Cooper-Bristol around the circuit passing the Formula One Ferrari 375 piloted by Luigi Villoresi. He would hold onto the lead until the rain stopped and the track dried. Once dry, the full power of the Ferrari 375 would be more than Hawthorn could contend and he would end up finishing 3rd. But it would be the race that would really set his racing career in motion.
After the performance at Boreham, he would be approached by Jaguar's Lofty England. England had witnessed the performance and would later comment, 'I saw him drive at Boreham, and it rained like hell in the afternoon. He passed and led Villoresi…in the wet—in his little Cooper-Bristol. I thought, ‘this is my boy.''
Within a matter of days Mike would be testing in a specially-prepared C-Type. And within a few laps would be under the lap record. But Lofty wouldn't be the only one that would be impressed by Hawthorn's performance. Enzo Ferrari would end up offering Hawthorn a contract to drive for Ferrari in 1953. Hawthorn would take the opportunity and would become the first British driver to be signed by a major manufacturer from Europe since Dick Seaman.
The move to Ferrari would place Hawthorn amongst a whole lineup of great grand prix talents. But in a year that Alberto Ascari would go on to win his second-straight World Championship, it would be Hawthorn that would provide a performance for the ages.
Mike's talents at the wheel of a race car were certainly undeniable, especially after the 1952 season. However, in spite of his incredible performances it was also becoming quite clear those performances came as a result of him actually being interested in going racing. Otherwise, there was a tendency to be rather unspectacular.Page: 1 2 next >>