Hawthorn absences

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Sir,

I enjoyed your feature on Mike Hawthorn’s appearances at Goodwood, but found that as soon as I had gone through the results table, I began thinking about a couple of his no-shows at the Sussex track.

He had intended to return for the major September meeting just two weeks after his Modena accident. He would have driven the Cooper-Bristol, of course, but his new-found fame was now leading to offers from other car owners. According to DSJ and Cyril Posthumus’ history of Vanwall, Tony Vandervell wanted Hawthorn to drive the Thinwall Special in two races.

Meanwhile, Andrew Whyte tells us that Jaguar had agreed to lend a works C-type to Leslie Hawthorn (who had originally hoped to buy a car at the start of the season) for the sportscar race.

As things turned out Duncan Hamilton drove the Cooper — which was repaired in time even if Mike wasn’t — but had the engine blow up in practice. A last-minute deal saw Giuseppe Farina take over the Thinwall, while regular Jaguar driver Tony Rolt was drafted into the C-type. And so it was that Stirling Moss and Hawthorn did not find themselves face-to-face in near identical Jaguars.

The other great might-have-been was the 1958 Tourist Trophy. Ferrari had taken the world sportscar championship with the Hill/Gendebien victory at Le Mans and had withdrawn to concentrate on Formula One. The BARC was particularly anxious to ensure an entry for Hawthorn and Peter Collins, at least, but the latter’s death at the ‘Ring was to change everything. Mike made no reference to the TT in Champion Year and nor does Chris Nixon in Mon Ami Mate, but the lone works Ferrari entry remained on the list. Whether the Italians still intended to come over or not I do not know, but the official reason for their final withdrawal was the lack of a codriver for Hawthorn. Both Collins and Luigi Musso had been killed, von Trips had been injured in the Italian GP, Phil Hill was in the USA, Gendebien was winning the Tour de France and neither Gino Munaron or Wolfgang Seidel were really to up to the task.

Contemporary Autosport previews list von Trips as a Porsche driver for this event, while the Ferrari drivers were still to be nominated, so perhaps the whole idea had already been dropped.

Which was a pity because Luigi Chinetti had just sent over a most promising new boy who had shown well at Le Mans, Reims and Nurburgring, and would becoming the Scuderia’s rising star of 1959.

Yes — just imagine a Mike Hawthorn/ Dan Gurney pairing.

I AM YOURS, ETC,

David Cole, Oakham, Rutland