Chasing Down a Legend - The book of The Hailwood
This is a short extract from the book Chasing Down a Legend. Author – Paul Barden.
Emotion is at the centre of this story. Gorgeous, fast, fine-handling, booming Italian motorcycles inspire strong loyalties.
Mike Hailwood is motorcycling royalty. World Champion nine times, he won 14 Isle of Man TT races. He was bumped into premature retirement in 1967 when the Honda factory suddenly quit bike racing for Formula One. He had just won the 250 and 350 world titles for them, losing the hat-trick 500 class by a single point.
Hailwood was summarily abandoned and despite financial compensation, he never campaigned a motorcycle over a season again. He moved to cars, redirecting his huge affinity with speed until a vicious shunt in an F1 race ruined his right lower leg and ended his second-choice career. By 1977 he was out of motorsport, living the quiet life with his wife and young family far far away in New Zealand. Drinking wine and having low-octane fun.
Perhaps it wasn’t enough. Maybe he wanted just one more roll of the dice on the most dangerous racing roads in the world. At 38, half a stone heavier than his old racing weight, on a dealer-owned bike, he arrived for Isle of Man TT week 1978 out of the game. Unfancied.
What happened next is historic. His stunning, dominant victory in the F1 TT after 11 years away, leaving champions in his wake, ranks among the greatest comebacks in sporting history.
The story of how that final Hailwood World Championship came about, how the Sports Motorcycles NCR Ducati delivered the win, is a David and Goliath fable which has continued to amaze, bringing adulation, global fanaticism and for the big red and green Ducati, a smidgen of notoriety. And money. Much more money than was ever earned, won or spent on it back in 1978. Since that hot Saturday in June 40-years ago, much has changed. Memories have sometimes shifted, been forgotten, become fuddled. Some of the major players, including Mike Hailwood himself, are no longer here to bear witness. Others have joined the story, whether they were involved or not. It is certainly true that the legend is not always the truth.
About the book
Our book by Paul Barden delivers the inside story of the amazing twists and turns that led to the construction of the 'Chequered Flag' bike, EXACTLY as it was on June 3rd, 1978. This has only been possible because of Brook's accidental link up with the enigmatic engineer 'Guiseppe' which allowed him to acquire the drawings and components vital to recreating the machine's super-rare engine.
The book details the project with unprecedented access to the key players, and the original machine that the Vee Two bike emulates. There are pages of photographs of the manufacture and build of these iconic replica machines, together with many historic photographs and memories of the race day on June 3rd 1978.
There is also a detailed examination of Hailwood's extraordinary life as a bike and car racer, his huge successes and rare, but often painful failures. And of course, his glorious comeback victory in the 1978 F1 TT after 11 years away.
The book has been produced in association with the Hailwood family and includes moving interviews with Pauline and David, who talk at length about living with Mike Hailwood and the tragic accident that claimed his life and that of his young daughter. And how they continue work with the faithful Isle Of Man Hailwood fanbase.
A must-have for true Hailwood fans or anyone interested in The Hailwood's extraordinary story. It is the amazing story of the birth of a truly stunning motorcycle.