Welcome to 365 Days of Motoring

An Everyday Journey Through Motoring History, Facts & Trivia

Belt up and enjoy this 365-day ride as you cruise past the most momentous motoring events in history. Packed with fascinating facts about races, motorists and the history of the mighty engine, this is a must-visit web site for any car enthusiast.

On This Day

Monday 23rd March 1981

38 years ago

Nine time world champion motorcyclist Mike Hailwood (42) died along with his young daughter Michelle in a car crash. Hailwood was en route with his two children – his son David survived – to pick up fish and chips for the family's dinner when a lorry turned suddenly into the car's path. The lorry driver was to be fined £100. Hailwood was world champion at 250cc three times, at 350 twice, and four years in a row at 500, immediately before Giacomo Agostini began his long reign. Only Ago and Valentino Rossi rival him for all-round brilliance on a bike. In a relatively short career (1959-67), Hailwood won 76 Grands Prix. If he hadn't left the sport when he was only 27, Agostini might not hold all the records. And even Ago didn't win 14 TT races on the Isle of Man or the TT world title when he was 38. At his funeral Hailwood's pall bearers included James Hunt, John Surtees and Giacomo Agostini. His abilities on his bike can be measured in titles, 12 times a winner in the Isle of Man – "the scariest race in the world" – and nine times the Grand Prix Motor Cycling champion, as well as the less quantifiable but no less obvious esteem in which he was held by the sport. Hailwood revelled in the "here today, gone tomorrow" attitude that pervaded motorsport in the 1950s and 1960s. It was a dangerous game, and it was treated as a game. "He was a little bit wild," said his wife, Pauline. Walker put it another way: "He was a party animal." Legend has it Hailwood taught Hunt how to party. For a time Hailwood swapped two wheels for four. He drove in Formula One, competing in 50 Grands Prix. He finished on the podium twice, as he did once at Le Mans, making a decent fist of driving for lesser teams, believed Jackie Stewart. It was a sport Hailwood never felt at ease in, thinking the other drivers looked down on this scruffy bike rider – Stewart said Hailwood felt more comfortable with the mechanics than the drivers – but in Formula One came the moment that stripped away the "playboy" exterior to reveal the man beneath via an act of selfless, unthinking heroism. It happened in 1973 at the South African Grand Prix at Kyalami. On the second lap, Hailwood and Clay Regazzoni collided. Regazzoni was knocked unconscious and his car caught fire. Hailwood rushed to Regazzoni's car and tried to pull him out only for his own clothing to be set alight – footage of the incident shows Hailwood frantically waving his flaming hands around. A race marshal aimed a fire extinguisher at Hailwood, whereupon he went straight back to Regazzoni, whose car remained engulfed in flames. This time he managed to pull the Italian out.Hailwood's actions saved Regazzoni's life and what is astonishing in watching the footage is his return for a second go – many acts of bravery happen when there is time only to act and not think.

Mike Hailwood

Mike Hailwood