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Mike Hawthorn
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Auto Racer
    (April 10, 1929-January 22, 1959)
    Born in Mexborough, Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
    Raced for Ferrari (1952-55) and Jaguar (1955-58)
    Won the 24 Hours of Le Mans (1955)
    Formula One World Champion (1958)
    Six months after retiring from racing, died in a car accident on the A3 Guildford Bypass
    He fathered a son out of wedlock.
    The French press nicknamed him ‘Papillon’ (‘butterfly’) for his habit of wearing bow ties while racing.
    His victory at Le Mans was marred by the worst accident in race history, which started when he braked suddenly in front of Lance Macklin, who then swerved in front of Pierre Levegh, whose car collided with Macklin’s, went airborne, then landed in the crowd of spectators, killing 83.
    Macklin sued him for libel, claiming that his autobiography implied that Macklin had been responsible for the disaster.
    Years after Hawthorn’s death, his friend Rob Walker admitted that they had been racing each other on the highway.
    The official inquiry into the Le Mans disaster concluded that no individual driver had been responsible for the crash and that the spectator deaths were a result of poor track design and inadequate safety measures.
    He was seriously burned in a crash at the Syracuse Grand Prix (1954).
    His victory at the 1953 French Prix, where the top four drivers finished within five seconds of each other after 60 laps, was called ‘the race of the century.’

Credit: C. Fishel


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