HAUNT­ING RE­FRAIN

Classic Bike (UK) - - World -

The story by Mike Gar­diner in the June is­sue, ‘Haunted by Hail­wood’ ap­pears to be taken from the orig­i­nal 13-page ar­ti­cle ‘My Mem­o­ries of Mike Hail­wood’, writ­ten by El­iz­a­beth Mccarthy, an On­tario woman who claimed to have spent a lot of time with Mike H dur­ing the last week of Septem­ber ’67 in Toronto and Mosport, Canada. If El­iz­a­beth’s story is true (and some peo­ple who were there dis­pute a num­ber of her de­tails) she kept a very low pro­file at Mosport and the Fly­ing Dutch­man ho­tel in Bow­manville, near the cir­cuit.

She claimed to be 5ft 3in, blonde with shoul­der-length hair, and that Mike had asked to ride the 500cc Honda four on prac­tice day in the pad­dock to ‘play a trick on Ago’ as she’d rid­den a Honda 50 one sum­mer and he said: ‘It’s the same thing’. I am not sure where Mike Gar­diner got his in­for­ma­tion from, but Gary Nixon did not ride in the ’67 Cana­dian GP. His Day­tona 200-win­ning Tri­umph ma­chine was loaned to Ron Grant, who dropped the bike and did not fin­ish the race (I at­tended the race as a pho­tog­ra­pher). Mike H con­tin­ued to race the RC181 Honda four in non-championship events in 1968 and ’69 and I think that his last

ap­pear­ance in ‘The Great White North’ was at Mosport at the 1973 Cana­dian F1 GP, driv­ing a Sur­tees TS 14A. The photo and ref­er­ence to El­iz­a­beth Smith in Gar­diner’s story did not ap­pear in the orig­i­nal Mccarthy ar­ti­cle. ED CUN­NING­HAM, AL­TON, ON­TARIO, CANADA

El­iz­a­beth Mccarthy and I ex­changed emails and phone calls over a pe­riod of sev­eral years. Al­though she sent me the writ­ten mem­oir to which you re­fer, my ar­ti­cle was based pri­mar­ily on di­rect con­ver­sa­tions which were recorded, logged, ac­cu­rately tran­scribed and edited only for clar­ity. So is her ac­count fac­tual? Not bloody likely.

I’m sorry to have mis­tak­enly placed Nixon in the race. I found it im­pos­si­ble to source con­tem­po­rary race re­ports, and said he was there be­cause he was listed in the pro­gramme. I am aware of Hail­wood’s later ap­pear­ances on the 500; I meant to con­vey that it was his last Honda 500 ride at world championship level.

Since you at­tended as a pho­tog­ra­pher, I’d love to see pho­tos from the race. I’ve not fin­ished with writ­ing about Ms Mccarthy’s fas­ci­nat­ing story as an ob­ses­sive fan. It would be an un­der­state­ment to de­scribe me as scep­ti­cal al­though, in her lim­ited de­fence, I am fairly cer­tain she be­lieves her ver­sion of the events. Mark Gar­diner

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