Thursday, August 2, 2012

Honda "Hailwood"

Honda “Hailwood”

The last time a motorcycle racer was a household name in Europe, it was Mike Hailwood. From the beginning of his career at age 17, “Mike the Bike” was a natural.  He accumulated 14 wins at the Isle of Man TT, and was the first man ever to win three TT races in one week. He was also a World Champion of Grand Prix motorcycle racing – nine times.

Though killed in a tragic car accident with his family in 1981, Hailwood is talked about on the Isle of Man even today. Two races stand out.  In 1967, his rivalry with Giacomo Agostini was at its peak. In the “Senior TT,” the final and most prestigious race of the TT week, after two hours of racing Hailwood emerged the victor. In the process, he set a lap record that stood for eight years. 

At the close of the 1967 season Hailwood retired from motorcycle racing…at least, for eleven years. In 1978 the allure of the Isle of Man proved too much and he announced a comeback. Few believed Hailwood, now 38, would be competitive against an entirely new generation of racers aboard motorcycles worlds apart from those Hailwood was accustomed to. Yet, to everyone’s amazement and sheer delight, Hailwood was more than competitive – he won.

The bike most closely associated with Hailwood is the 500cc 4-cylinder Honda from his victorious 1967 TT. Inspired by that machine, the bike here possesses all the styling beauty of the original:  slender red tank, exaggerated seat, and sleek silver fairing with signature yellow Honda stripe.

1 comment:

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