Racing was in Mike Hawthorns blood

Inspiration For Goodwood Revival

Learn a bit more about this Goodwood icon, his winning looks and how Revival vintage can help you put his classic outfits together.

When considering what to wear this September what better place to look for inspiration than some of the original drivers that raced the track in it's heyday from the late forties to the mid-sixties.  In this particular blog, we have chosen to focus on one of those drivers: John Michael Hawthorn.    Why not? he was born in our neck of the woods - Mexborough near Doncaster South Yorkshire and had great style.

John Michael Hawthorn (10 April 1929 – 22 January 1959) Throughout his short life, motor vehicles brought this British racing driver many highlights and great success but sadly tragedy & heartache in equal measure.  Pictured here with his father Leslie at the garage where it all began.  

Mike & father Leslie outside of the trophy garage

Like Father Like Son - racing in the genes

Born in Mexborough Mike spent the early part of his childhood there. His father ran the Robinson and Hawthorn garage, which was on Doncaster Road.  Later moving his family to Faham Surrey.  He was educated at a prominent Public School followed by studies at Chelsea technical college followed by an apprenticeship with a commercial vehicle manufacturer.  This was intended to prepare him to join the family business.  His father then owned the Tourist Trophy Garage, franchised to supply and service several high-performance brands, including Jaguar and Ferrari.  His father raced motorcycles and encouraged his son's interest in motorsport, providing him with motorcycles, then cars for local competitions.  In 1950 he began winning races in a small Riley sportscar also bought for him by his father.

Mike Hawthorn one of the press's favourites

Achieving Success At Great Speed

Mike's speedy progression from club racer to Grand Prix driver took place on one significant afternoon at the 1952 Easter Meeting at the Goodwood circuit. It was his first competition in a single-seater.  It was a Formula Two Cooper-Bristol provided for him by a family friend.  The opposition included the famous Argentine drivers Juan Manuel Fangio and Froilan Gonzalez. Mike won the F2 race from pole position, plus finished first in the Formula Libre race and was a sensational second in the main event, for Formula One cars.  Inspired by his splendid showing at Goodwood, Mike and his father decided to enter the Cooper in the remaining races of a 1952 Formula One season that was being dominated by Alberto Ascari in a Ferrari. Fourth place in Belgium, a third in Britain and another fourth in Holland left Mike an astonishing fourth overall in the standings. Enzo Ferrari was so impressed he hired him for 1953.

Winning looks Mike in his green Barracuda jacket

The highlight of Mike's career was at the 1953 French Grand Prix at Reims his Ferrari crossed the finish line a hair's breadth ahead of the Maserati driven by the great Fangio. On the podium, when he heard God Save The Queen being played Mike burst into tears and was warmly embraced by the ever-gallant Fangio, who thought him: "a nice young fellow, always in a good mood."

Tragic Ending To A Lucrative Career

Wins for Hawthorn included the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans which left him haunted by his involvement in a disastrous crash that marred the race.  He became the United Kingdom's first Formula One World Champion driver in 1958, however, he announced his retirement shortly after, blaming the effects of the death of his teammate and friend Peter Collins two months earlier in the 1958 German Grand Prix. The final twist of fate came when only three months later, just like his father 6 years earlier, he was involved in a fatal car accident just 29 years of age.

Quote from the Alton Tribute in relation to the crash January 1959:

'Mike Hawthorn, of Farnham, the world champion racing driver, was killed instantaneously when his green Jaguar car skidded and crashed on the Guildford by-pass yesterday morning.  The car skidded sideways on the damp road, for about 100 yards, touched the back of a lorry going in the opposite direction and crashed into a roadside tree. The car was completely wrecked.  He died instantly'

The lorry driver, Mr Frederick George Rice, of 167, Winterslow Drive, Havant, said he saw the car skidding sideways towards him at a very fast speed.

Rob Walker, a friend of Mike who had been driving a Mercedes just ahead of his Jaguar had insisted until his own death that the two of them being on the same road that day had been entirely coincidental, dismissing suggestions that the two had been racing.

Looking dashing in tweed

Get Mike Hawthorns Winning Looks

Prior to Goodwood he had always raced in his everyday clothes, usually a sports jacket and a tie, which at speed tended to flap in his face. For his single-seater debut, Mike bought white overalls and wore the bow tie that has to become his trademark.  He still favoured the relaxed country looks for everyday wear pictured above in a tweed sports blazer.   

Mike Hawthorn style tweeds

Whilst his signature look for race days continued to be a pair of white overalls topped with a cotton Baracuda style jacket and a jaunty bowtie which reflected his personality beautifully.  He also had a selection of favourite cravats to coordinate with his country tweed blazers.

Get the Mike Hawthorn look from Revival

At 6'2" with his blonde good looks ad wide grin he wore his clothes well and knew what suited him.  His classic style is a good fit for the Goodwood Revival event regardless but to know you are emulating the style of one of the original icons of the track gives it a special angle. 

During your visit why not stop by his bronze statue exhibiting alongside the Goodwood circuit.  Created by David Annand, a British sculptor, it features Hawthorn walking with engineer 'Lofty' England.  To find out more about Mike Hawthorn and his racing career there is a dedicated website at https://www.mike-hawthorn.org.uk/

If you need help putting an outfit like Mike's together for Goodwood Revival you can visit our showroom or get in touch with us through the many ways directly from our website www.revivalvintage.co.uk