Mike the Bike – Again
Mike Hailwood. The name, properly stated, is Stanley Michael Bailey Hailwood. But to GP racing fans around the world, Hailwood was known as “Mike the Bike.”
The name evokes memories of some of the greatest GP motorcycle races in the history of the sport by one of the sport’s true legends.
Indeed, Hailwood’s years as a professional motorcycle racer saw him win nine world championships, 12 TTs, seven Ulster Grand Prix victories, and many others.
In 1964, Hailwood went to Daytona and in the same visit set a new one-hour world speed record at an average of 144 mph and later the same day won the 500cc U.S. GP, while setting lap and event time records.
His last TT victories were in 1967 when he rode a Honda to victory in the Senior, Junior and 250cc events. It is little wonder that the TT would never seem the same without Hailwood on the track.
His retirement from motorcycle GP racing to switch to Formula One might have seemed a way to stay in competition on an international stage, but perhaps with a little less danger. Ironically, one of the most severe race-related injuries Hailwood ever suffered came not on a motorcycle but in an F1 car.
In his remarkable book, Mike the Bike-Again, Ted Macauley, noted motorsports writer and friend of Hailwood’s since 1961, provides a rare inside look at Hailwood’s stunning return to the TT in 1978 after 11 years away from it and his encore performance in 1979.
Indeed, it was Macauley who Hailwood turned to in order to help make it happen. From logistics to sponsors to PR and moral support, Macauley was up close and personal every step of the way as Hailwood plotted his course back to the Isle of Man.
Macauley is the author of three books on Mike Hailwood, covers F1 racing for London’s Daily Star Sunday and has a long resume of motorsports coverage going back to before he met Hailwood at the Isle of Man in 1961. It was both their friendship and Macauley’s broad experience that moved Hailwood to call on Macauley to help craft what would become one of the epic comebacks in professional motorcycle racing history.
It didn’t necessarily seem an entirely good idea to Macauley when he received a letter from Hailwood in July 1977 where Hailwood asked Macauley to help him make it all happen; in the book, he recalls:
“My reply to Mike’s letter was that I had always suspected there was a vein of madness running through him—and now I was sure of it. But on the basis that he knew his own mind, and had assessed and come to terms with the risks and problems involved in such a massive enterprise, I was happy to organize his comeback to the TT.”
From that point on, Macauley takes the reader along for a sometimes wild ride to Hailwood’s return to the Isle of Man in 1978 and 1979.
Though none could doubt Hailwood’s credentials to take on the TT, the eleven years away from the exceptionally dangerous, difficult course and the motorcycles that could challenge it would have to give anyone pause. Despite many challenges leading up to the event and the perils of the race itself, in 1978 Hailwood mounted a Ducati won the Formula One TT with a time of 2:05:10.2 at an average of 108.51 mph. In 1979, he returned to the Island and came away with the victory in the Senior TT aboard a Suzuki with a time of 2:01:32.4 and an average speed of 111.75 mph!
The sad irony of Hailwood’s life is recalled in the book’s postscript; he lost his life not on any racetrack but on public streets in a tragic crash that also claimed the life of his nine-year-old daughter, Michelle, in March, 1981.
- Title: Mike the Bike—Again, the Story of Mike Hailwood’s Return to the TT
- Author: Ted Macauley Forewords by Bernie Ecclestone and James Toseland
- Published: First published in 1980, latest edition published 2018 soft cover. 108 pages. Measures 8.25” x 6.0.” 40 Color and black & white images.
- Publisher: Veloce Publishing, Parkway Farm Business Park, Middle Farm Way, Poundbury, Dorchester, DT1 3AR, England
- Veloce Publications are distributed in North America by: Quarto Publishing Group, 400 First Ave. North, Suite 400, Minneapolis, MN 55401. Books can be ordered by e-mail at: email@example.com or call: 1-612-344-8100. See: www.quartoknows.com
- ISBN: 978-1-787113-13-8 MSRP: U.S. $25.00 CAN: $32.99 U.K. £14.99
Other great reads on the golden age of GP motorcycle racing we’ve told you about:
- Rider’s Library—TT Talking, the TT’s most exciting era
- Rider’s Library—Sox the Forgotten World Motorcycle Champion
- Rider’s Library—The Racing Line by Bob Guntrip
- Rider’s Library—Motorcycle GP Racing in the 1960s
- Rider’s Library—Motorcycle Racing with the Continental Circus
- Rider’s Library—Jim Redman-Six Times World Motorcycle Champion