Pauline Hailwood, widow of Mike Hailwood, has died.
She had battled with cancer for a number of years and although knowing in recent times that it was terminal, remained amazingly stoical.
She had been looking forward to the movie about Mike’s famous comeback at the 1978 TT in which Australian star and bike enthusiast Eric Bana was to both produce and take the lead role. But she admitted wistfully: ”I’m not sure I’ll be here to see it.”
Her life as she described it was “exciting and glamorous… but also of extremes.” A successful model she was also a bike racing fan and met her future husband at Snetterton in the early sixties when she was dispatched by her friends to borrow some plugs from the great man. Not surprisingly she succeeded.
It eventually led to a serious relationship and the life she described . No hanger on she enjoyed the parties, the music, the fun but was always conscious of the danger when friends were injured or killed. But she never stood in the way of what he wanted to do including the TT comeback.
When he was forced to retire following his F1 crash at Nurburgring, the arrival of two lovely children and the prospect of starting a new life in New Zealand it was surely settle down time. So it was with some trepidation when she finally learned about the TT adventure.
But the darkest hour was yet to come three years later in 1981. Returning from New Zealand the Hailwood family settled down in Tanworth-in-Arden. But Mike still had itchy feet and returning from some foreign jaunt he volunteered to go out for fish and chips taking Michelle and David with him.
They seemed to have been away for quite a long time when Pauline went to answer a knock on the door. It was a policeman.
He said there had been an accident and Mike had been seriously injured. He left the house to take a call and returned with the shattering news that Michelle, aged nine, had been killed. Mike died days later.
In the foreword to a book “His Legendary Racing Years” Pauline said: ”Another driver’s thoughtless error took their lives and changed mine forever. I was absolutely devastated but thankfully our son Dave, then six, who had also been in the car,
survived and now has a little boy of his own called Mike.”
She added, in reference to Mike: ”It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, well Mike was the love of my life and in one way I haven’t lost because his legend lives on, he is still very much in my life and always will be.”
A date for the funeral has yet to be fixed. It is expected a service will be held nearby the family home in Evesham with a burial alongside Mike and Michelle at Tanworth-in-Arden.