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

Total MX-5 - - CONTENTS -

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

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