A nine-time motorcycle world champion and regarded by many as posssibly the greatest motorcycle racer of all time. Later in his career he was also a Formula One driver.
Hailwood won nine motorcycle world championships between 1961 and 1967. He also won 76 GP and 14 TT at the Isle of Man. He won his first four championships on the dominant MV Agusta.
In 1966, he switched to Honda. Honda had the most powerful engines at the time, but were known as difficult to ride because of their weak chassis. Hailwood's great skill overcame the disadvantages however, to continue recording world championships until 1967.
Honda pulled out of top level motor racing in 1968, but continued to pay Hailwood with the expectation of returning. Hailwood never returned to full-time motorcycle racing.
He participated in 50 grands prix, debuting on July 20, 1963. He achieved two podium finishes, and scored a total of 29 championship points. He is best known in F1, not for winning, but saving the life of Clay Regazzoni. In the 1973 South African GP, Hailwood stopped his car on the circuit to pull Regazzoni from his burning car after an accident, an act for which he was awarded the George Medal that year (as was David Purley for an equally heroic, but unsuccesful, attempt to rescue Roger Williamson).
He left Formula One after being injured at the 1974 German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring. In 1978, he returned to racing motorcycles at the age of 38! Racing the TT races at the Isle of Man, he was not only competitive, but managed to win riding a Ducati 900SS.
He was involved in a car crash on March 21 1981 when his car was in collision with a truck while on the way to collect some fish and chips. He died from his injuries on 23 March 1981 at Selly Oak Accident Hospital. Michelle, his daughter, was killed instantly but his son David survived.