Mike Hawthorn

Mike Hawthorn rode to international fame on the same tidal wave of British interest in motor racing which helped propel Stirling Moss and the late Peter Collins to the forefront of public acclaim in the 1950s. On his day, Mike was a formidable competitor, but he was also inconsistent and there were days when he seemed to suffer from a lack of interest. But when things went well, he was difficult to beat as Juan-Manuel Fangio found out in the 1953 French Grand Prix at Reims where he had to take second place to the young Englishman who had been hired by Ferrari at the start of the year. Hawthorn later hit the headlines for allegedly dodging his national service obligations, a story which gave rise to many emotive headlines in the British tabloids. In fact the combination of a kidney condition and the after-effects of burns sustained in the 1954 Syracuse GP would have almost certainly rendered him ineligible. In 1957 and 58 he particularly enjoyed his racing paired in the Ferrari team with his close friend Peter Collins, but all that came to an end with Collins' death in the '58 German Grand Prix. Mike went on to win the title, but immediately announced his retirement from racing. A promising business career beckoned, but he died when he crashed his Jaguar saloon on the Guildford bypass early in 1959.