Moses and the Lion

John Michael ‘Mike’ Hawthorn, born on April 10, 1929, in Mexborough, Yorkshire, was one of Britain’s most celebrated racing drivers of the 1950s.

In 1958, Mike Hawthorn became the first British driver to win the Formula One World Championship.

Hawthorn’s partnership with Scuderia Ferrari was legendary. He drove for the Italian team from 1953 to 1958 and played a pivotal role in Ferrari’s success.

Mike was known for his rebellious streak both on and off the track. He was notorious for disregarding team orders and pursuing victory at all costs.

This fierce independence made him a captivating figure in motorsport and endeared him to fans who admired his audacity.

He became known as the ‘Lion of England.’

Despite his competitive nature, Hawthorn was also known for his sportsmanship.

He shared a memorable rivalry with Stirling Moss, another British racing legend, and the two drivers respected each other on and off the track.

His referral showed this to Stirling Moss as Moses, his way of highlighting his Jewish ancestry.

Mike’s graciousness in victory and defeat earned him admiration from fellow competitors and fans worldwide.

While Mike Hawthorn was primarily known for his achievements in car racing, he had some involvement with motorbikes early in his career.

But there was another side. Mike demonstrated the traits of snobbism and chauvinism that were widespread then.

Sadly, Mike’s life was cut short on January 22, 1959, at the young age of 29 in a road accident at the ‘Hogs Back’ on the Guildford bypass.

There has been much speculation about the accident, ranging from racing with Rob Walker driving his Mercedes 300SL to his terminal kidney condition.

We shall never know.

His legacy continues to inspire, reminding us of the passion and bravery that define motor racing’s essence.