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Tribute to British racing great Mike Hawthorn


More than 70 racing and sports cars, some driven by former Grand Prix stars, flooded the streets of the market town of Farnham, Surrey, England last Sunday to remember British racing legend and former world champion, Mike Hawthorn, who died 50 years ago

Police closed off streets in the town centre so that the cars and drivers could pay tribute to Hawthorn who died when he lost control of his Jaguar in wet weather and crashed on the Guildford bypass. Hawthorn, a Yorkshireman, was 29.

Jaguar, for whom Hawthorn drove sports cars (1950s F1 drivers also raced extensively in other categories), sent the famous Long-nose D Type in which Mike won the 12 hour race at Reims, France in, 1956. It was driven by ex-world champion, Damon Hill.

Sir Stirling Moss and his wife Susie drove a jaguar C Type sports racing car.

Hawthorn, a flamboyant Englishman famed for his bow ties, won the 1958 world championship driving a front-engined Dino 246 V6 Ferrari.

His F1 career began in Cooper-Bristols in 1952, switching to Ferraris in 1953 and 1954. A year later he drove two Grands Prix in the British Vanwall F1 car and the rest of the season in works Ferraris.

In 1956 he drove a mixed bag of cars – Maserati 250F, BRM, Vanwall – before returning to Ferrari in 1957 to drive the Lancia-Ferrari V8.

A year later he became the first British driver to be world champion and announced his retirement.

In his championship year, close friend Peter Collins died after crashing his Ferrari in the German GP, and two other F1 drivers, Luigi Musso and Stuart Lewis-Evans, died in racing accidents.

Musso was chasing teammate Hawthorn hard when his works Ferrari left the road at more than 250km/h, hit a ditch and flipped during the French Grand Prix at Reims. He died instantly. Lewis-Evans died of burns suffered when his Vanwall crashed during the Casablanca GP.

A biography, Mike Hawthorn – Golden Boy, was published last year to mark the 50th anniversary of his world championship.

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