The Mike Hailwood Run 2020

Today, Monday 23rd March is the 39th anniversary of the death of motorcycle racing legend Mike Hailwood. Also next week on 2nd April he would have been 80 years old. He was a south Warwickshire resident who lived in the village of Tanworth in Arden.

Members of the Triumph Owners club usually have a ride down there on the nearest Sunday to visit his grave in the village churchyard. Unfortunately with the Coronavirus situation it was called off.

However, I decided that as it was a nice day I would ride down there by myself on my 1963 Triumph Tiger 90.  It was cool but sunny riding along the country lanes of Warwickshire for about 25 miles to the centre of the village. In past years it has always been full of bikes – mainly our club – but this time only me.

I had the foresight to take a flask of coffee as I knew the Bell would not be open. After a mug full on the village green in the sunshine I wandered down into the churchyard just a few yards away. The gently sloping path overlooks a view stretching miles over the countryside. Halfway down the path is a huge tree at the base of which is the grave of Nick Drake. He was a well known singer/songwriter in the 60’s who unfortunately was depressive and took his own life at about 26.

Further down, near the bottom of the rows of graves is a more imposing headstone marking Mike’s resting place and also of his 9 year old daughter who died in the same car crash on a local dual carriageway when a truck driver pulled out in front of them. One of my attached photos shows the view from the headstone. Continuing down the path is a bench where I sat and finished the rest of my coffee whilst admiring the view.

Back up in the square it was still quiet …..  until I started my bike! The route out of the village took me past Umberslade Hall – now a conference and event venue – which was, in the late 60’s and 70’s the design centre for BSA and Triumph motorcycles where they managed to avoid designing and producing any world beating new models.

The Tiger ran well along some different lanes back into Coventry, although it did run out of fuel a few yards from a petrol station on the way into Dorridge, but coasted up to a pump, no problem! No reserve! Must sort it out.

It was a very pleasant few hours out on a lovely morning, along traffic free roads and lanes to a charming village to pay respects to a legend and his daughter.

Barry Heath

Page edited 27 Mar 2020