Rider Hall of Fame – April: Mike Hailwood

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It’s the end of the month, which only means one thing, it’s ‘Rider of the Month’ – and April’s feature is Mike Hailwood! Keep on reading to find out about this iconic rider’s life.

Affectionately known as ‘Mike the Bike’, he was born Stanley Michael Bailey Hailwood back on April 2nd 1940. His name was handed down from his father, Stanley William Bailey Hailwood. Mike was born into a very wealthy family. Before the war his father had a passion for motorcycle racing, but that soon was passed down onto his son when he was born.

Finding his love for Motorbikes

Sadly, Mike is no longer with us, but when he was alive, he had fond memories of riding the fields at the back of his house on his minibike. At the age of just 10, he was entered into his first race. He continued participating in more races as time went on, and at the age of just 16 he took his first trip with his dad to the Isle of Man TT.

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Pre-Racing Career

Shortly after leaving school, his dad invited him to start working at his car and motorcycle dealership. Although he enjoyed it, there was probably a lot of pressure working for his dad. It wasn’t long before he jumped ship and ended up working at his local Triumph Dealership. Of course, his shifts would be soon cut short when he started his racing career.

Mike Hailwood’s Racing Career

It was in 1957 that Mike took part in his first official race at Oulton Park when he was riding a 125cc MV Agusta. Shortly after that, the awards started coming in. It is to be debated – is Mike Hailwood more successful than Valentino Rossi? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

In 1961 he became the first man in history to be awarded 1st place 3 times in one week at the Isle of Man TT. Between 1958 and 1979 with an 11 year break, Mike had a total of 14 wins from the TT. Alongside his TT career, Hailwood also competed in Grand Prix Motorcycle Racing. Between 1958 and 1967 he was awarded 76 wins and had 112 podiums. Along with this he also had 9 world championships.

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Moving Places with Mike Hailwood

In the summer of 1967 Hailwood moved over to South Africa. It was here that he started his building business with fellow racer, Frank Perris.

Shortly after this, in 1968 he was awarded an MBE for his contribution to motorcycle racing. Shortly after, he competed in F1. During a GP race in 1973 he resigned from a race when he noticed a car on fire from fellow competitor, Clay Regazzoni. He ran over and to his rescue, pulled him from the burning car.

Mike Hailwood returned to his racing roots back in 1978 at the age of 38. The following year he followed in his dad’s footsteps, opening a Honda dealership called Hailwood and Gould with Rodney Gould.

Personal Life & Death

In 1971 Mike Hailwood married model Pauline. Together they had 2 children, Michelle and David. Sadly, whilst Mike and the kids were on the way to pick up their fish and chips, Michelle’s life would come to a tragic end that fateful day of March 21st 1981, she was just 10 years old. Mike was rushed to hospital where he would join his daughter 2 days later.

Although David was with them both that day, he only sustained injuries that were not life threatening. Today, he claims on his Twitter that he is a motor enthusiast. If you look further, you will see that he enjoys a bit of racing too! Oh, and just like his dad and granddad, he works at a motorcycle dealership!

Author: Emma Henry

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