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