A King of Motorsport - Stan Hailwood

David E Langtord continues his series on Oxfordshire motorsport heroes who have inspired his work.

Stan in his MG
Stan competing in an MG at the Ulster TT - Ards 1931 -
from a painting by David Langford

It seems logical to follow up the story of Mike Hailwood (Limited Edition February) with a tribute to his equally talented father, Stanley William Bailey Hailwood.

In the 1930s Stanley was able to compete with the finest exponents of both car and motorcycle racing, but this story begins just after 1918, the year Howard King of Kennington opened his first 'Kings of Oxford' motorcycle showroom in Park End Street.

At Kings, Stan had been hired initially as a mechanic, but due to his natural talent for buying and selling, he was promoted to sales manager then eventually managing director

Under his directorship the company expanded to 50 branches nationwide to become one of Britain's most successful motorcycle retailers.

My personal interest in the Hailwood saga and motor sport in general, was inherited from my father, who was an electrical engineer in the RAF engaged in maintaining the Hawker Hurricane fighter aircraft used in the Battle of Britain.

An engineering colleague of his by the name of Bill Warne, had known Stan Hailwood and raced alongside him. Bill was responsible for taking my father and I to Silverstone in 1965 to see 'Hailwood junior' (as he called him) racing at the time for the Italian Count Domenico Agusta's MV team.

As young men, Bill and Stan had both raced motorcycles in grass track events in the Oxford area and, according to one Oxford Mail report from Marston: 'Mr. Hailwood cornered so fast he often had the crowds gasping'.

In three years of racing on both roads and grass track, Stan was hardly ever beaten, except by Jack Surtees, father of the unique John Surtees MBE - still the only man ever to win GP world titles on two wheels and four.

In 1930, Stanley Hailwood acquired an MG and took up sportscar racing. The MG factory, then at Abingdon, prepared the car for him to compete at Brooklands, the world famous banked circuit near Weybridge, where he would attempt the one-hour speed record at 114mph.

By coincidence, the very first motorcycle race held at Brooklands was won by an Oxford undergraduate in 1908.

Between 1907 and 1939, Brooklands was the home of the elite in motor sport, and Stanley Hailwood was one of them. In 1932 he drove his MG in the 'Brooklands 500' race, an event vividly described in Great Motor Races (Weidenfeld & Nicholson); 'On a chill morning of September 24, 1932 the flag fell at II o'dock and released one 'unbfown' (unsupercharged) Austin and five MGs. The Austin took the lead in the rush and the bunched MGs behind induded Lieutenant Low's TT machine, Norman Black's car and Hailwood's entry'.

There is apparently some archive film of this event.

He competed at the Ulster TT at Ards in 1931, breaking the lap record in practice for the event. The illustration is my own impression of Hailmood's MG on the day, based on the technical data from the Rivers Fletcher book on MG cars.

Tim Maton in
Stan Hailmood's old office

As Kings of Oxford expanded its empire under the directorship of Hailwood senior, so his exploits on the race track came to a reluctant end. After many successful years the Park End Street showroom closed in the 1970s. Thankfully the motorcycle tradition is being upheld by Tim Maton's business Oxford Motorcycles which today inhabits the upstairs and the Hythe Bridge Street side of the building.

The photograph shows Tim Maton in Stan Hailmood's old office, which is still preserved as a shrine to his achievements. A replica of Mike Hailwood's crash helmet sits on the shelf of the impressive stone fireplace.

Stanley died only a few months before Mike's famous comeback to the Isle of Man, a race win he would dedicate to the memory of his father A great tribute to both father and son was that during this race, the island recorded more visitors from all over the world than at any time, before or since.

Recommended reading

• 'Mike' by Ted Macauley (Buchan & Enright: ISBN 0907675220
• 'A Man Called Mike' by Christopher Hilton (Motor Racing Publications Ltd: ISBN 0947981659).
Visit www.mikethebike.com
For details of D.E. Langford's work or call 01865 434359.
May 2006 Oxfordshire Limited Edition 57|