John Michael Hawthorn (1929 - 1959)

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Nicknames: "Mike"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Mexborough, Yorkshire, England
Death: Died in Yorkshire, England
Cause of death: automobile accident
Managed by: Ric Dickinson
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

    • Jacqueline
      ex-partner
    • Jean
      fiancée
    • Arnaud
      son
    • Leslie
      father
    • mother

About John Michael Hawthorn

Mike Hawthorn made his competition debut driving his 1934 Riley Ulster Imp, KV 9475, winning the 1,100 c.c. sports car class at the Brighton Speed Trials on September 2, 1950. In 1951 he won the Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Trophy, a season-long contest run at Goodwood, driving his 1½-litre T.T. Riley, by one point. He also won the Ulster Trophy Handicap at Dundrod and the Leinster Trophy at Wicklow that year.

Hawthorn made his Formula One debut at the 1952 Belgian Grand Prix, finishing an impressive 4th place. He would later win his first Grand Prix, at only the 9th attempt, when he won the 1953 French Grand Prix at Reims.

In 1955, Hawthorn was the winner of the 24 hours of Le Mans race, despite being involved in the terrible crash that killed 84 spectators and fellow racer Pierre Levegh.

He was the winner of the 1958 Formula One Championship. With only one win that year against four wins of Stirling Moss, he benefited greatly from the gentlemanliness of Moss as shown at the Portuguese Grand Prix of Porto. Hawthorn was disqualified for pushing his car, against the rules, on the way to a second place finish. Moss interceded on Hawthorn's behalf and the decision was ultimately reversed. Those second place points at Porto contributed to Hawthorn winning the championship with a season total just one point more than that of Moss. After winning the title, Hawthorn immediately announced his retirement from Formula One.

A matter of only months later, on 22 January 1959, Hawthorn died in an automobile accident on the A3 bypass near Guildford driving his British Racing Green highly tuned Jaguar 3.4-litre sedan (now known as the 3.4 Mk 1). What happened that day is still unknown, suggested causes being driver error, mechanical failure, or blackout. The crash has been ascribed to combination of high speed, bad weather, competitiveness and impulsiveness. Rob Walker's 300 SL Mercedes was ahead of him. Perhaps Hawthorn pushed his car to pass Walker's. Hawthorn's Jaguar, nicknamed "the Merceater" was heavily modified for high power and speed. "No Kraut car could overtake or outaccelerate" Hawthorn's Jaguar (these are the words in his biography Challenge Me The Race) - a close relation had been killed in the war, hence his dislike of Germans.

There is now evidence that Hawthorn had recently become subject to blackouts that might well have caused the accident.

In Farnham, the town where he lived up to the time of his death, there is a street named Mike Hawthorn Drive (off Dogflud Way). It was also in this town that Hawthorn ran The Tourist Trophy Garage. Jaguars, Rileys, Fiats and Ferraris were serviced and sold from there.

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John Hawthorn's Timeline

1929
April 10, 1929
Mexborough, Yorkshire, England
1959
January 22, 1959
Age 29
Yorkshire, England
????
????
West Street Cemetery Farnham Surrey, England