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Martin Harris - Moderator25/09/2013 00:31:16
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I know this isn't related to model flying but I suspect many of us will share an interest in classic cars and racing - I've never come across this (or anything similar) so I thought I should share it...

Those aware of a certain historical event in 1955 may find some comments thought provoking...

Edited By Martin Harris on 25/09/2013 00:36:36

Tony Richardson25/09/2013 02:05:14
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Always was a duffer at history Martin:  to which historical event do you refer?. wouldn't be the oldest man to drive in the Grand Prix and finish sixth would it.

Edited By Tony Richardson on 25/09/2013 03:00:35

Essjay25/09/2013 08:13:20
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I believe Martin is referring to this:

**LINK**

Tim A25/09/2013 08:15:38
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Great film, disappointed to find my Scaletrix Le Mans set I had as a child was nothing like the real thing, but I didn't now that at the time!

Thanks Martin

Colin Leighfield25/09/2013 08:20:16
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That's fantastic Martin. Are you referring to the major pile-up at Le-Mans in 1955 which killed a load of people? I think that's what Mike briefly refers to in the drive. When you look at the traffic on the open road, including bicycles and pedestrians while Mike is doing this at speeds he describes as up to 175/185, the mind boggles. I know the road is closed during the race, but even so it reminds you a bit of the TT course in the Isle of Man, albeit it's a bit flatter, where I was four weeks ago on my Honda VFR1200 for the Manx GP.

In the fifties Mike Hawthorn and Stirling Moss were great heroes of mine, along with Geoff Duke, Neville Duke, Mike Lithgow and Dan Dare! Mike was killed in I think1958(?), driving his Jaguar Mk2. He lost it on a corner near Arley in Worcestershire and hit a tree. Very depressing, although in those days people getting killed like that was not so unusual. Very sad.

Colin Leighfield25/09/2013 08:40:32
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I've got so interested in this that I've had a look on-line to refresh my memory and find it was 59 when Mike died, not 58, but it was a Mk2 Jag. Also I was way off beam on the location, it wasn't Arley in Worcestershire, so I don't know why I'd fixed that in my head! It was near Guildford.

Essjay's link fills in the detail on the Le Mans accident. It was understandably huge news and I still remember it. Racing accidents involving deaths, as well as plane crashes, were far more common than now. I had a look recently at RAF accidents and in the early 50s something like 150 pilots a year were dying in crashes. In the first year of operation of the Sabre 4 by the RAF, thirty were lost in accidents! Can you imagine that now! The mind boggles.

Martin Harris - Moderator25/09/2013 08:57:09
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Colin, yes that was the incident. Frighteningly (and a reflection on simpler times) the death toll was unknown and estimated at between 80 and 120 !!!

Mike was apparently distraught at the time and came into the pits after completing another lap blaming himself for causing the accident - but later went out again and was villified in the press for celebrating the victory with champagne and the traditional partying. No PR men in those days and (I'd imagine) post war attitudes to sudden death...

The jury is still out on the real cause but I think it was generally accepted to have been a racing accident caused by several factors - Lance Macklin's car being under-braked after Mike (who had the revolutionary disc brakes) was called into the pits at late notice and veering into the path of Levegh's Mercedes when he was unable to match Hawthorn's decelleration, coupled with a rather poor circuit layout.

Mike Hawthorn was killed on the Guildford Bypass (the A3) in Surrey and an awful long way from Worcestershire - I wonder if you might have confused Mike Hawthorn with Mike (the bike) Hailwood?

Mike Hailwood was killed while going to the chip shop with his son and daughter but I think it was in Warwickshire.

(Sorry Colin - we overlapped a bit while I was writing this!)

Edited By Martin Harris on 25/09/2013 09:00:15

Colin Leighfield25/09/2013 10:19:40
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Martin, no, Mike Hailwood is one of my all time heroes. He lived in Henley in Arden and was on the Warwick by-pass in his Rover 3.5 going to the fish and chip shop when an idiot lorry driver turned across the dual carriageway in front of him. His daughter Michelle (9) was in the front seat and killed outright. His son (David? 4?) survived. Mike's neck was broken and he died a few days later in Birmingham Accident Hospital.

I'm sure that your analysis of the Le Mans disaster is right, sadly in those days death was seen as part of the glamour in motor sport and flying, that event was probably influential in changing that point of view, I would think.

Biggles' Elder Brother - Moderator25/09/2013 10:28:28
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Ah nostalgia for the days when;

Men were men and racing drivers couldn't get insurance.....

You could tell were the edge of the circuit was - its were the trees start!.....

And fire crews were very polished - because they got a lot of practice!

BEB

Colin Leighfield25/09/2013 10:52:35
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You're very perceptive BEB, but it used to be worse than that! What about the front gunner position in an Fe2b? (We don't talk about the rear gunner, he'd have been mincemeat).

Martin Harris - Moderator25/09/2013 11:08:56
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Posted by Colin Leighfield on 25/09/2013 10:19:40:

Martin, no, Mike Hailwood is one of my all time heroes. H

In which case, a little bit of related model flying trivia that might interest you is that Phil Read was a member of our model flying club when he was a teenager. One or two of the older members still remember him.

Colin Leighfield25/09/2013 12:06:05
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Martin, that's amazing. Phil was in the island 4 weeks ago and he did one of the demo rides. He's 74 now. Considering how he turned against the island at one time he's not universally popular, but he's one of the great riders. Some say that his tricky nature was down to his wife of the time, Marlene, who was notoriously fickle. I don't think she's around any more. I always remember his successes with the Sid Lawton Norton 650SS in the Thruxton 500 miler. I've still got mine. Happy days.

mal brewer25/09/2013 12:39:43
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Posted by Colin Leighfield on 25/09/2013 08:40:32:

I've got so interested in this that I've had a look on-line to refresh my memory and find it was 59 when Mike died, not 58, but it was a Mk2 Jag. Also I was way off beam on the location, it wasn't Arley in Worcestershire, so I don't know why I'd fixed that in my head! It was near Guildfor

Mike Hawthorn's accident was in 1959,I seem to recall it was either january or february,and it was shortly after he had retired from racing,as reigning world champion,I believe britain's first grand prix champion.His car was a 3.4 litre saloon,known then as the 'compact' jaguar. After the introduction of the improved copact jaguar,which was known as the 'mk 2' jaguar,the earlier saloon,like Mike was driving,retrospectily became known as the mk 1,but it was never known as this while it was a current model.There was a lot of talk and speculation at the time about his car having experimental tyres,also maybe a hand throttle,both of which were suspected of being factors in the accident,but nothing became of these rumours.Ironically,with respect to the le mans tradgedy,the car Hawthorn was overtaking on the guildford by-pass was a mercedes,so in both tradgedied,a jaguar and a mercedes were involved.Anothe story was that mike,being a patriotic englishman,would not have let a german car out drive him. Incidentally, mike hadn't long to live in any event,as he had a serious kidney disease,anyway a tragic end to a flamboyant character

Colin Leighfield25/09/2013 13:22:36
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Thanks Mal, I didn't know about the illness issue. Also for clarification of the Jaguar model, I've always thought of it as the Mk2 and I know that when introduced (57/58ish)? it had a small back window that was enlarged when they updated it later. What you say explains it for me. I'm into Jaguars, running an XF at present and it's brilliant.

In the IoM a few weeks ago they were using Jags as the circuit clearance cars at the end of the races. Seeing a red F Type being driven in the way it's meant to be was something else. What a motor, and the XFR and XJR also being used weren't hanging around either. Amazing how Tata have achieved what Ford couldn't, just by giving the company its' head and saying "Get on with it". I'm sure that Mike Hawthorn would have approved.

00125/09/2013 13:23:28
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For the facts about the Mike Hawthorn crash look into the Surrey Constabulary website where there is a lot of first hand and contemporary information.

I know exactly where it happened, I was 15 at the time and went past the hole in the hedge where the impact was, a number of times.

The car was taken to Stag Hill Motors nearby and a number of press photographers had to be cleared off the embankment at the back of the workshop where they were trying to get pictures through the high windows of the building.kulou

mal brewer25/09/2013 13:36:18
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Hi Colin,

yes I,m sure Mike Hawthorn would have 'got on with it',he was a real gung-ho character,mind you, he became disillusioned with racing after the death of his best friend,his 'mon ami mate' Peter Collins, in the 1958 German grand prix.During the 1950's, le mans was the major road race in the world,and I used to follow the race on the radio broadcast. The jaguar was, to me, the finest car in the world,and their feats at le mans legendary. There was just nothing else like a 'D' type jaguar,and their drivers were all household names.And yes,I'm still a jaguar man,got a real scruffy 3.8 mk2,but it still goes well,and sounds fabulous.........Mal

Martin Harris - Moderator25/09/2013 14:43:47
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Back to the video, I've just done a few sums and, with kamikaze bicycles, trucks, locals on the wrong side and slowing through the pits, the average speed around the gentle demonstration circuit without full access to racing lines appears to be just over 120 mph - but I suspect they did some sneaky editing during the cuts to Mike's face!

Mal - I've loved the D Type for as long as I remember - I had a Matchbox one when I was too young to remember when I got it and was immediately seduced by those sensuous curves...my dream was to win the pools and buy myself the real thing (preferably a long nose version)

I was rather jealous of a work colleague who'd worked for a car dealer in the late 50s/early 60s and had the job of driving an XKSS somewhere one day - his comment was that it stretched his arms a bit!

Mind you, if the lottery ever smiles on me...

Edited By Martin Harris on 25/09/2013 14:52:09

Colin Leighfield25/09/2013 15:44:07
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Martin, Mal, Chris. What a fantastic on-line conversation. Although this is more than 50 years ago, it doesn't seem like it. The mention of Peter Collins brings memories back as well. I was very interested in F1 when I was a kid, Vanwalls, BRMs, Ferraris etc, Coventry Climax "Fire engines" and so on. Somehow it's less interesting now, but that might be an age thing.

Mike Etheridge 125/09/2013 16:12:02
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Like Mal I have a Jaguar but it's not a real one it's a 2.0 litre SE X-Type diesel Estate. However it's ideal for transporting the model planes. About a couple of weeks ago it needed a new hose fitted between the auto-cooler and the turbo-charger. Whilst this was being carried out by the Jaguar agents they spotted that the water pump had a slight leak and the front and back anti-roll bars bushes had worn out . They invited me to the workshop to witness all the necessary repairs and for £1200 all the work was carried out. Last Tuesday I noticed the off-side front tyre had lost pressure so I went to the local tyre specialists who recommended two new front tyres. They managed to replace the problem tyre but not the other as they could not remove the wheel. I suspect they had used an air-tool on the anti-theft nut which has been butchered. Well the new tyre plus balancing and tracking adjustment cost over £150 and the Jaguar dealers will charge about £128 + VAT to remove the wheel if they have to drill it off the hub!

I remember Mike Hawthorn and how sad I felt learning about his death, but I bet he did not have similar problems with his Jaguar? I was also a fan of racing when I was young and can always remember hearing the noise from Crystal Palace race track at about that time if the wind was in the right direction. All the cars looked different then and at least 4 or more were created by Dinky Toys which we collected avidly.

I was offered a free ticket last week for the Goodwood Revival from an F1 track Marshall I know but had to pass it on to someone else due to my hip problem-oh dear!

MJE

Edited By Mike Etheridge 1 on 25/09/2013 16:15:09

Colin Leighfield25/09/2013 16:42:32
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Let's hope it's sorted now Mike and you can have a trouble-free run. After very disappointing experience with BMW I have had three "S"Types and the current XF, done the best part of 400,000 miles with very little trouble. They seem to be getting better all the time, it's going to be interesting to see the new small one that's coming along and although I'm not really a 4x4 man, it looks as if this new one (CX17 or something like that) will give the Porsche Cayenne a run for its' money. Ford made a mess of getting Jaguar into F1, they clearly couldn't afford it and it didn't match the image anyway, but it would be nice to see them get back into the kind of racing they used to lead in. Back to Le Mans and give it to Mark Webber! I think they might eventually.

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