What goes around...


Evolution of the species

The transition from two wheels to four is a path a few bike racers have trodden and with no little success it should be noted. Three Brits in particular come to mind who made the transition from success on two wheels to fame on four.

John Surtees was the first to switch camps after a stellar racing career on bikes where he won world titles in 1956, 1958, 1959 and 1960. Then the world of Formula One beckoned and John made his debut driving for Lotus. Within three years he took the F1 crown with Ferrari in 1964. Worth remembering in passing he was up against the likes of Jim Clark and Graham Hill so it was no easy ride.

Then came “Mike the bike” Hailwood. Unlike Surtees, Hailwood mixed his racing on two and four wheels competing in 50 grand prix, albeit with limited success, while maintaining his winning ways on two, amassing a total of nine world championships and 14 TT wins in his career.

Lastly came a rider who without doubt achieved more fame on four wheels than he did on two. Son of a famous GP driver and multiple World Champion, it was probably always on the cards he would end up racing. But Damon Hill’s two wheel race career lasted but two short seasons before he made the move to four in 1983.

As a sidebar to this story, the machine pictured above, a Kawasaki Z500, was supplied by Damon’s sponsor John Moore, from his Watford dealership Kawasaki House. At the time a keen young mechanic at the dealership worked on preparing the bike. That young fellow called Ron Merralls is a little older and now works as Assistant Manager of NGK’s Technical Services Department! Meanwhile back to Damon…

It took almost ten years before he found his way into an F1 car as a test driver for Williams in 1992. Then just four years later he claimed his one and only World Championship having been denied one the year earlier by some infamous dodgem car tactics by one Mr Schumacher…

Which brings us to today and another biker who is following in their footsteps, though taking a somewhat different path.

Maria Costello, after a career spanning 20 years of road racing, has shall we say extended her racing repertoire, not once but twice. Putting on wheels in the process…

In 2016 she announced an addition to her racing calendar. A sidecar combination was to be her mount. The venue Cadwell Park. With the bug well and truly bitten, in 2017 Maria teamed up with Kirsty Hauxwell to form the only all female sidecar racing team with JG Speedfit Cool Kawasaki. Their debut season peaked with a double podium success at Thruxton in the Hyundai Heavy Industries British Sidecar Championship. Who knows what 2018 will bring…

But while getting a taste for life on three wheels alongside her passion for two wheels, Maria was approached to expand her racing portfolio with a special guest appearance in last year’s Silverstone Classic, at the wheel of an HDRC ‘Works’ Austin A30 Academy Car.

She “simply fell in love with the friendly ambience that seems to surround all the HDRC racers” to such an extent that she has signed up to compete in the Historic Racing Drivers’ Club series in 2018. Racing alongside pre-’60 Touring Cars, Maria’s Austin A30 will be up against the likes of Jaguar Mk.1 & 2 racers, Alfa Romeo, BMW and Ford racers. So she’s going to be a bit busy!

“I hope I can do the little car justice and will do as many HDRC events as my bike commitments allow, thank you to Julius Thurgood and the HRDC for this fantastic opportunity!”. Maria’s first race in the HDRC will be on April 1 at Silverstone.

Which in a roundabout way brings us full circle as Graham Hill, Dad of Damon, was quite a mean hand at the helm of his A35 back in the day. So you see what goes around does indeed come around if you wait long enough.

Tags: , Published on 28th February 2018