Mike Hailwood Memorial Run

Took part in my first organised motorcycle run today to commemorate the motorcycle racer and F1 driver, Mike Hailwood MBE GC.

It was 27 years ago (1981) today that Mike’s life was cut short in a motor accident involving a flatbed lorry between Birmingham and Redditch and the Birmingham Testers group organised a run to commemorate the anniversary from the former Norton Works in Bracebridge Street, Aston, Birmingham, to Tanworth in Arden, Warwickshire, where he is buried.

I didn’t know anything about Mike Hailwood before this event, as I’m not interested in motor sport particularly, but having looked at his achievements in motorsport, even I recognise that he was something special. The run was recommended to me by Rod, the bass player in the band, to whom in turn the run had been recommended by a friend.

In the event, it snowed this morning, and so many people, having looked at the weather at around 8:00 this morning, chose not to come along. There were approximately 50 of us in all who set off on the relatively short journey down the M6, M42, and A435 to Tanworth in Arden. There was a great variety of bikes present, from vintage models to modern-day bikes. Rod was going to come along on his 1949 Vincent, but, having seen the roads, decided to spare it the salt and come on his Honda Transalp instead.

As it turned out, the weather was quite nice, albeit a bit on the chilly side. There was no rain, but there was a lot of salt on the roads, as was evidenced by my bike when I got home, so it had to have another wash today (I washed it only yesterday).

Once we arrived at Tanworth in Arden, we made a quick visit to the grave. The fact that his daughter, who was born three days before me, was also killed in the accident hit home while we were there. I thought about all my memories from back then and what I had done since and considered all the things that the poor girl had missed out on. Very sad.

We walked back from his grave and found that of another famous Englishman, Nick Drake, an acoustic artist who has a very loyal fanbase and is hailed as one of the top songwriters of the last 50 years. His story is equally sad, as commercial success eluded him until after his death in 1974, aged just 26. I had briefly seen a programme on Nick Drake, but will have to have a listen to some of his work.

Before we left Tanworth in Arden, we headed across the road to the pub for a couple of coffees and had a chat through a few band things before heading home. By early afternoon the sun had well and truly come out and the ride home was very enjoyable.