Mike Hailwood  Great Britain

  • Full name Stanley Michael Bailey Hailwood
  • Birth date April 2, 1940
  • Birthplace Great Milton, Great Britain
  • Date of death March 23, 1981 (40 years 355 days)
  • Place of death Birmingham, Great Britain
  • Teams Lola, McLaren, Surtees, Team Lotus
driver portrait
World Championship Career
Year Car Race Start Won Pod Class Best Pole Front Best Lap Hat Pts Pos
1963 Team Lotus, Lola 2 2 0 0 2 8 0 0 17 0 0 0 -
1964 Team Lotus 9 9 0 0 5 6 0 0 12 0 0 1 21
1965 Team Lotus 1 1 0 0 0 - 0 0 12 0 0 0 -
1971 Surtees 2 2 0 0 2 4 0 0 14 0 0 3 18
1972 Surtees 10 10 0 1 5 2 0 0 4 1 0 13 8
1973 Surtees 15 14 0 0 5 7 0 0 6 0 0 0 -
1974 McLaren 11 11 0 1 8 3 0 0 4 0 0 12 11
Total 50 49 0 2 27 2 0 0 4 1 0 29
Race Circuit Date
First race British Grand Prix Silverstone July 20, 1963 Race results
Last race German Grand Prix Nürburgring August 4, 1974 Race results

Mike Hailwood was considered among the all-time greats of motorbike racing, winning nine world championships at 250cc, 350cc and 500cc in a seven-year period between 1961 and 1967, as well as 75 grand prix. He had learned to ride when a small child - his father owned a bike dealership - and after leaving school early, Hailwood served an apprenticeship with Triumph before embarking on a racing career.

He made his debut as a 17-year-old in 1957, and within four years he had won the 250cc world title on a Honda. In 1962 he signed with MV Augusta and won the 500cc crown for four successive years. In 1966 he switched back to Honda and won both the 250cc and 350cc titles in 1966 and 1967. His reputation was further enhanced by his success at the legendary Isle of Man TT, where he won 12 times, including three wins in 1961 alone.

In 1968 Honda withdrew from racing but fully expecting to return, paid Hailwood a £50,000 retainer not to ride for anyone else. Rather than sit on the sidelines, he turned his attention to motor racing. He had dabbled with F1 in the mid 1960s, with limited success, but while not coming close to repeating his record on bikes, he became a respected driver.

He earned a drive with Surtees in 1971 and in his first race for six years finished fourth at Monza. In 1972 he won the Formula Two European title and scored a podium finish at the Le Mans 24 Hours. That season he suffered from reliability issues with his F1 car, but when things clicked he was up with the front runners and four of his five finishes were in the top six.

In 1973 the problems continued, but he made headlines when he pulled Clay Regazzoni from his burning car after the two collided on the second lap of the South African GP. Hailwood's driving suit caught fire, but after being extinguished by a marshal he returned to help rescue Regazzoni, an act for which he was awarded the George Medal.

After a disappointing season he joined McLaren in 1974 and started superbly with three top-five finishes, including a career-best third in South Africa, to go second in the championship. But he struggled to maintain that form and aside from a fourth at the Dutch Grand Prix, was well out of the reckoning. In Germany in August he was lying in fifth when he crashed, sustaining serious leg injuries which eventually forced him to retire.

He moved to New Zealand with his young family but in 1978, aged 38, he returned to the Isle of Man to take part in the TT races after an 11-year absence. In front of record crowds, he won the race on a Ducati; a year later he was back to record his 14th win on a 500cc Suzuki. Only then did he finally quit.

In 1981 he was killed, along with his nine-year-old daughter, when a lorry struck his car as he popped out for a takeaway supper. Thousands attended the funeral of a man of whom it was said: "He was a modest, shy person with a great sense of fun. He hated fuss and unwanted attention but was hero-worshipped by thousands of fans throughout the world."

Martin Williamson November 2009

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