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Mike Hawthorn - Farnham Flyer

Local Heroes: Mike Hawthorn

Date: 22nd January 2018
Author: fionabousfield
Publisher: Darwin Escapes
Park: Tilford Woods Lodge Retreat
Local Area

2018 marks the 60th anniversary of the crowning of Britain’s 1st F1 World Champion who spent much of his early life near Tilford Woods…

We may not have the greatest record when it comes to international Football, but the UK is actually the most successful nation when it comes to Motor Sport with drivers from this glorious nation having won 16 Formula 1 World Championships since the sports inception in 1950. This has been achieved by 10 different drivers with 160 Brit’s having contested a round of the World Championship in total during this period.

2018 marks the 60th anniversary of the first British driver to achieve this accolade, Mike Hawthorn set a trend which was later followed by 2016 World Champion Nico Rosberg by winning the Championship before heading into retirement.

But did you know that Hawthorn spent much of his early life in Farnham which is where our very own Tilford Woods Lodge Retreat is located? Learn more about this legendary trend setter in our latest Local Heroes blog post…

Hawthorns Garage in Farnham

Hawthorns Garage in Farnham

Hawthorns Garage – Farnham

Mike Hawthorn was born on the 10th April 1929 in Yorkshire but spent much of his early life in his father’s Tourist Trophy Garage where he serviced high performance cars. This facility was based just down the road from our very own Tilford Woods Lodge Retreat, and also happens to be the base from which Leslie Hawthorn supported much of his son’s early racing career. Mike picked up the nickname of the “Farnham Flyer” on account of the success he experienced in a variety of different motor racing series. His obvious speed was enough to attract the attention of Enzo Ferrari who gave the Brit his debut in F1 behind the wheel of one of his legendary red cars at the Belgian GP in 1952, where Mike finished in an impressive 4th position.

But did you know that you can still pay a visit to the site of this historic Hawthorn Garage that played such a pivotal role in early British F1 successes? During your next stay at Tilford Woods, why not take the short 3.5 mile drive to pay homage to this mecca for motor racing enthusiasts?

Simply turn right on the exit of Tilford Woods and head down Tilford Road. Continue straight down this road towards Farnham itself, until you see a Texaco garage just after you pass the railway crossing. Hawthorn Garage is located right after this opposite Farnham Train Station.

The garage was re-opened in 1994 in the Hawthorn name where it continues to service and sell prestige vehicles. Hawthorn’s showcases a vast array of memorabilia devoted to the 1958 World Champion, as well as continuing to support Motorsport activity in the local area by sponsoring Formula Ford driver Jessica Hawkins in her quest to progress her career.

The Story of the 1958 F1 Season

Mike Hawthorn with Juan Manuel Fangio

Mike Hawthorn with Juan Manuel Fangio – Nürburgring 1957

1958 was a season of major change for the sport with Juan Manuel Fangio making the decision not to compete in the sport full time. The Argentine driver had dominated much of the early years of the championship becoming a 5 times World Champion, but contested only two events during this season. This left the door open for new stars to emerge such as Britain’s Hawthorn and Stirling Moss. Moss was driving what was by far the most advanced car of the time for the Vanwall team, who were running rear-engine Cooper-Climax cars against the front engine Ferrari’s, raced by Hawthorn and another British driver called Peter Collins. In total Moss would win four races during the 1958 season against Hawthorn’s one win, but the superior consistency of Mike, and his more reliable Italian vehicle, ensured that this was enough to make Hawthorn the first British driver to win the F1 Championship at the final event in Morocco.

This eventual championship triumph was invaluably aided by a sporting move from Stirling Moss at a previous round in Portugal, where Hawthorn was initially handed a time penalty for an on-track misdemeanour. Moss unexpectedly came to his championship rivals defence, against the legislators, and aided the reinstatement of Hawthorn’s original finishing position. The additional points acquired on account of this were the difference between victory and defeat in what was a tightly contested championship squabble. How often in the modern day would you see an action of such sporting generosity?

A Tragically Short Retirement

After achieving his goal of winning the Formula 1 World Championship, Hawthorn immediately announced his retirement from what was a perilously dangerous sport at the time. Unfortunately road cars were also far more dangerous than they are in modern times during the 1950’s and the Farnham Flyer was tragically killed in an accident on the A3 Guildford Bypass, just three months into his retirement.

Hawthorn had returned to Farnham to live in his retirement and there is now a street named in his honour in the centre of the town near the local leisure centre, called ‘Mike Hawthorn Drive’.

The former Ferrari star is also still well remembered in the motor racing community with the Hawthorn Memorial Trophy having been given to the most successful British F1 driver every year since 1959.

Get Revved Up For Your Next Holiday in Farnham at Tilford Woods

Photo credits: Willy Pragher, Landesarchiv Baden-Wurttemberg, Graham Clutton

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