Mike Hawthorn country
Following in the wheeltracks of Britain’’s first Grand Prix World Champion, Mike Hawthorn, we plot a course to Goodwood through Surrey, Sussex and the South Downs. Words by Steve Bennett, pphotographs by Antony Fraser
A nostalgic trip around the southeast visiting the old haunts of a British racing legend
‘Give me Goodwood on a summer’s day and you can forget the rest of the world.’ So said British racing driver, Roy Salvadori, and it’s very hard to argue with that one, so quintessentially British is the famous circuit and its surrounds. Or should that be English? Not to take anything away from the other parts of the United Kingdom, because they all have their defining features, but England is the green and pleasant bit, particularly the Home Counties, where Goodwood resides, perched on the South Downs, seeped in chocks away, Battle of Britain aerial combat and ’50s and ’60s motor racing derring do. Even without the now world famous Goodwood Revival meeting, time has stood still here. An obvious place for a southern-based road trip? Can you think of anywhere better?
OK, so maybe it’s a bit clichéd to be heading to Goodwood, but it never disappoints. And there’s more to this journey than just the destination. There’s the start and there’s also a good reason for this little adventure and a slightly personal one, if you will indulge me.
Despite now being domiciled in East Anglia, I still consider the South East to
I was never alone on those drives, though. Well, not in my mind, at least
be my patch having mainly grown up there and lived there into my mid 30s. As such, Goodwood has always featured on my map. I’m too young ever to have seen it in its original heyday, but grew up with its history, making regular pilgrimages to the track for trackdays in the ’80s before the term ‘trackday’ had even been invented. Into my working life and the track was a prominent test facility for magazines in the ’80s and ’90s. It was scruffy and run-down, two scaffold pit garages, with corrugated iron roofs and grass growing through the cracks in the track surface.you could still forget the rest of the world there, though, as Salvadori so rightly observed.
While racing had long been abandoned at the circuit (in 1965), Sprint events still used to take place at Goodwood and in the mid ’90s I would regularly make the trip from home in Camberley, Surrey, cross-country via Farnham and Midhurst, in my Caterham 7 to compete against the clock in the hugely popular BARC Speed Championship. Happy days, enhanced by the early morning blast in the Caterham before the rest of the world was up along typical, narrow, tree-lined roads, before finally climbing the hill to Goodwood, across the The Trundle (site of an Iron Age fort, which sits on the South Downs) and in to the motor circuit. Sometimes, if I’d pedalled hard enough, I would come home with a trophy. Life truly didn’t get much better.
I was never alone on those drives, though. Well, not in my mind at least. Losing the plot? No, not a bit of it, just using my imagination. Picking up the route from Farnham and then crosscountry via Tilford to the A286 and then the A272, I would always be joined by 1958 Formula One World Champion, the late Mike Hawthorn. Hawthorn was, of course, Britain’s first Grand Prix World Champion and a local to Farnham, where the Hawthorn family’s famous Tourist Trophy garage was based, named after the famous TT race that Goodwood hosted on occasion and is still the main event of the Revival meeting today.
I always imagined that my route was the same that Hawthorn would have taken and his racing father, Lesley, before him. Hawthorn made his name at the Easter Goodwood meeting in 1952, winning two of the day’s six races and establishing himself as a racing force to be reckoned with against the likes of Stirling Moss, Duncan Hamilton, Froilan Gonzales and even some chap called Fangio. I imagine that would have been quite some racing meeting. So, I think you can probably see the route this is taking, but I believe you will enjoy the drive and the stops along the way, even if a little poignant in parts.
More of Hawthorn later. First we need a car. Thus far in Total MX-5’S Road Trip slot I’ve used my own baggy old mk2 on an East Anglian odyssey.we handed over to the exotically named Anthony ffrench-constant for a tour of Iceland in a mk4, in which we learned much about the country, but little about the car.yours truly then took a mk3 to Cornwall, for some out of season sun, followed by some challenging terrain in the Lake District in an RF. So logically this should be the turn of a mk1 MX-5. Logically, yes, but across the five issues of Total MX-5 that we have so far produced, it’s
glaringly obvious that the mk2 has been rather hard-done by, so this is an opportunity to rectify that, by borrowing one of Mazda’s Heritage fleet MXS in the shape of this smart-looking silver machine dating from 2003 and with just 40,000 miles on the clock. In mk2 terms, this is what’s known as a mk2 2.5, with a sharper-styled front end and slightly more power (144bhp v 138bhp of the earlier version) from the 1.8-litre, 16valve, thanks to variable valve timing.
Oh, and in the spirit of full disclosure, this is no ordinary mk2. Predictably it’s a Special Edition called ‘Angels.’ What? As if to reinforce the hairdresser/girl’s car image that the MX-5 is saddled with (and to be fair, so are many open-top sports cars), Mazda saw fit to create the ‘Angels’ edition as a tie-in with the 2003 film
Charlie’s Angles Reloaded.you will be forgiven if this passed you by. Still, as SES go, it’s quite subtle with just a couple of teeny badges on the front wings and the sill kick-plates, and some chrome interior trim, which look distinctly lowrent and aftermarket. And there’s a
Charlie’s Angels Reloaded keyring, which you could very easily lose. In fact, you could very easily de-badge the whole thing and no-one would be any wiser...
Top: Mike Hawthorn’s final resting place. The well-tended grave and riot of colour are fitting of Farnham’s most famous son Middle: Hawthorn sporting trademark bow-tie Right: Le Mans, 1955: Hawthorn leads in a Jaguar D-type