The motor sport world recently lost a gem when John Surtees, one of the most talented racers on two and four wheels, left for his heavenly abode on 10 March 2017, exactly 14 years after the demise of another legendary racer, Barry Sheene.
John Surtees’ contribution to the world of motorcycle racing goes beyond just winning championships. His exceptional talent was complemented by his bravery and will to achieve what others could only dream of. John Surtees was the only racer in the world who managed to win a Formula One championship (1964) and also numerous motorcycle Grand Prix championships in his racing career.
Born on 11 February 1934 in Surrey, England, John Surtees started racing at a very young age. In fact, he first participated in a sidecar race with his father and won. Unfortunately, they were disqualified when the race officials discovered that John Surtees was underage for the class. However, that did not dampen the teenager’s dream to go racing. His racing career, which started in the early 1950’s, lasted for more than two decades.
He also started a Formula One team in 1970, called Surtees Racing Organisation, with Mike Hailwood, Derek Bell and others driving for the team. Surtees also participated in the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans four times, bagging a podium in his second attempt in 1964.
Apart from his racing accolades, John Surtees was also honored by the British Empire many times. He received an MBE, OBE, CBE and also an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree from the Oxford Brookes University.
John Surtees was for me a great inspiration when I was growing up, without him I probably never made the step into the automotive industry.
John Surtees will always be remembered for his bravery and perseverance in the world of motor sport.