MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Márquez and Hailwood: different times
Marc Márquez may have broken Mike Hailwood’s half-century-old record to become the youngest man to win back-to-back premier-class titles, but in fact his achievement doesn’t outshine Hailwood’s. Or does it?
Back in Mike the Bike’s day, kids didn’t race motorcycles. It was a man’s business. There was no such thing as minimoto racing; even minibikes were a decade or two in the future. Most racers took to the track after they had started riding on the road at 16 or 17, not while they’re learning to read and write. Thus Hailwood’s achievement – twice 500 World Champion at the age of 23 – was astonishing.
But Hailwood wasn’t a normal post-WW2 century kid. His dad Stan was loaded, made rich by a chain of motorcycle shops. Most people called him ‘Stan the Wallet’, though only behind his back, while others preferred ‘that miserable old bastard’. So while other kids played conkers and used jumpers for goalposts, Hailwood spent his childhood weekends thrashing around the family’s extensive grounds on a specially converted minibike, based upon a 98cc Royal Enfield Flying Flea road bike.
And once Hailwood started racing Stan dug deep into his fat wallet to ensure his son always had the best equipment, to the extent that he helped Ducati finance the development of a new 250 and 350, specifically for his boy. And young Hailwood was often chauffeured to race meetings in dad’s Bentley, while his gleaming motorcycles followed on the back of a gleaming truck. No wonder everyone else was jealous.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.