John Surtees, the exception!
John Surtees in MV AGUSTA
It is not uncommon for motorcycle riders to switch to motorsport, normally this happens in a pre-retirement phase, perhaps for this reason the results usually do not correspond to expectations. John Surtees, born on February 11, 1934 in the United Kingdom, is the great exception, he was Rad Racing Motorcycle World Champion in 500cc and World Champion in F1.
The bikes Initially participated in Sidecar races (as a passenger of his father), at that time, they were disqualified when they discovered that he was underage!...
John Surtees as his father's passenger in a VINCENT sidecar
John Surtees in NORTON
At the age of 15 he started racing at Grasstrack and at the age of 16 he started working as an apprentice at VINCENT. In 1951, he made a name for himself by giving a great replica to Geoff Duke, the star of the time, in a national competition in Thruxton. In the period between 1952 and 1960 he regularly participated in the World Road Racing Championship (in the 125cc, 250cc, 350cc and 500cc classes). He used EMC, NORTON, NSU, BMW and, finally, MV AGUSTA (the brand with which he won 7 titles). In 1955 he became a NORTON factory driver and beat Duke in two races: Silverstone and Brands Hatch. The English brand's financial problems led him to accept a proposal from MV AGUSTA, where he earned the nickname "son of the wind".
He was World Champion in 1956 (500cc) and in 1958, 1959 and 1960 (in these three seasons he was World Champion in 350cc and 500cc simultaneously). Between 1958 and 1960 he won 32 of the 39 World Championship races he participated in and was the first driver to have won the major class (senior TT) on the Isle of Man in three consecutive years. During the 1960s he began to participate in F1 and in 1961 he moved definitively to automobiles.
The automobiles It participated in the F1 World Championship between 1960 and 1972 without interruption. He crewed cars from various manufacturers, in chronological order, LOTUS, COOPER, LOLA, FERRARI, HONDA, BRM, MCLAREN and finally the brand he created, SURTEES. He was World Champion in 1964 with a FERRARI 158 and, in 1966, he was Vice-Champion, in a season in which he disputed 2 GPs with a FERRARI 218 and the rest (7 GPs) with a COOPER T81.
In parallel with F1, he developed a sporting career in the Prototypes and Can-Am Series
SURTEES Racing Organization In 1970, John Surtees created his own structure and his cars, SURTEES, participated in F1, F2 and F5000. His last sporting participations were aboard a car of his brand in 1972, in the same year Mike Hailwood, another ex-Champion of motorcycles, was European Champion of F2 at the controls of a SURTEES.
The adventure lasted until 1978, although with some successes, the permanent lack of financial resources ended up dictating the abandonment of the project.
Along the way, there is, among others, the curious story of, in 1976, SURTEES competed in F1 with a car driven by Alan Jones and sponsored by the condom brand DUREX, for this reason the British television refused to broadcast the F1 this year...
1976, apresentação do SURTEES F1, John Surtees com a Miss Inglaterra, Vicki Harris
Nonetheless After the SURTEES adventure, John dedicated himself to some commercial experiments and participated in several vintage motorcycle and car "meetings", enjoying his condition of having been the oldest surviving F1 World Champion, after Jack Brabham had deceased - 19.05.2014 and until the date of his disappearance: 10.03.2017 with 83 years of age, and, at the same time of 500cc/MOTOGP (after Geoff Duke died on 01.05.2015), allowed him.