HAWTHORN’S RACING RECOLLECTIONS
“Challenge Me the Race,” by Mike Hawthorn. 240 pp., 8¾ in. by 5 5/8 in. (William Kimber & Co., Ltd., 46, Wilton Place, London, S.W.1. 21s.)
At last Hawthorn’s auto-biography has appeared. All racing drivers’ stories should make interesting reading and this book, although containing evidence that it has been put together somewhat hastily, is no exception. Everyone who admires the skill and forcefulness of Hawthorn will delight in “Challenge Me the Race,” in which his cheerful personality shines through a career which has contained many set-backs as well as popular success.
There are interesting “behind the scenes” in this book, which whet an appetite not fully appeased, because although Hawthorn tells some of it he is reluctant to tell all.
Not the least pleasing part of his book deals with his initial entry into motor racing with the Rileys and the Cooper-Bristol, recalling how he won the MOTOR SPORT Brooklands Memorial Trophy at Goodwood with the 1½-litre Riley. It is always intriguing, too, to learn how racing drivers get about the Continent of Europe in a hurry and Hawthorn is found to have used trains as well as cars fast and slow and aeroplanes—his own and larger ones.
In covering his great duels with Fangio, notably when he won the French Grand Prix at Reims in 1953, and of the shocking accident at Le Mans in 1955, if Hawthorn is not sensational at least the reader feels he is being honest. At the time of his Reims’ victory one heard that tears streamed down his face at “God Save the Queen” but in his book Mike claims the hub-to-hub battle with Fangio to have been boring in the extreme ! He joins others, incidentally, in paying tribute to Fangio’s superb effort in winning at the Nurburgring last year. Fangio pulling out all the tricks and a few others he had never used before and, as he told Hawthorn, he never wants to try again !
This is an interesting book and now Peter Collins, Harry Schell, Tony Brooks, Roy Salvadori, Uncle Tom Cobbley and all will, one feels, not be long in bringing out theirs. “Challenge Me the Race” (what a silly title !) contains clear, if not original, illustrations, but no index. Gordon Wilkins, Mike’s “ghost,” might, we feel, have included a table of Hawthorn’s victories.—W. B.