John Surtees

A Knight in anyone’s books – today saw the passing of one of Motorsport s greats. John Surtees CBE at the age of 83. Here in a lighter moment with the great Jim Clark. He won four GP championships on two Wheels and one Formula 1 championship on four for MV Augusta and Scuderia Ferrari respectively. Sir John posthumously? Absolutely!

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2 Comments to “John Surtees”

  1. This is all very sad, in it’s little way. Sad when set against larger events and catastrophe’s.. etc.
    Sad when so many of us here have actively campaigned to get him his K for so many years.
    I have shouted on websites in modern times and signed the damned petition on now 3 separate occasions of it being raised again., over the years.. all to no avail. He was given a CBE at the end of 2016, a sweetener I feel, when some of us knew he was ill. But no K.. again.
    It is widely felt that in his racing days, he had rattled too many cages, and his temperament then probably said that he did.
    But his treatment by the establishment was at best.. shabby.
    I contrast his treatment with that of other UK motorsport worldchampions.. by no means all knighted.. but to me he was always so special. Still after all these years, the only man ever to take titles in both disciplines.
    In reality it is very unlikely ever to happen again. Both Bike and Car racing are each now so intense, there really is no cross-over action. People no longer move from one to the other, the way they once did.
    In both disciplines, life is very different now. When people are selected for a quality team, car or bike, they go onto programmes for fitness, diet and so much more. Until say, 20 odd years ago, racers were just like footballers.. not so fit, fags before and another at half-time. Racers were so not fit, from either discipline.. turn up do the job and go home or move to the next event.
    Some years ago there was an article in MCN here, where JS had a hand in a trial for Rossi at Ferrari. It had gone well, and all were pleased. JS was determined that then was the time for VR to go to car racing, any later and it really would be too late. Rossi stayed put.
    I met JS on a number of occasions over a lot of years. I was wary at first of his reputation for being fiery, and quick tempered. But he wasn’t. I only ever wandered up and chatted, he chatted right back and was always friendly, gentle.. and charming. I well remember being at Brands Hatch in 1989 for a JS charity week-end event where it was all bikes and World Champions.
    He gave demo’ rides on his own bikes and was a joy to watch. So elegant, a beautiful, stylish rider, fast and smooth.. everything any of us would aspire to.
    And at I think Mallory, in the early 1980’s where both he and Fangio turned out for demo’ drives.. JMF in a 1950’s Mercedes 196, and JS in a late 1930’s Mercedes GP car. It was a riot.! All wheelspin and drifting on the edge and.. a sheer joy to watch.
    I have thought about this for so many years. JS has always been in my Top 5, where both disciplines are eligible.. for me he is a fine world champion, but he is the greatest all -rounder in my view.. and should have had his K. Especially in this country where he is generally, and fondly known.. as Sir John.
    More thoughts.. in recent years it has become clear to me that for a long time now, the only modern racer who gets anywhere close to JS, is really, the Rally world champion.. Sebastien Loeb, lately retired. His abilities are staggering, his Pikes Peak trip was simply magnificent.
    And if I may say.. JS won 3 titles at 350cc, and 4 titles at 500cc, in the 1950’s. He gave up bikes because Agusta would not let him enter any events other than GP’s, and he wasn’t getting enough practice.! So he left and moved to cars. And staggered the car scene.!
    John Surtees. Hero. Warrior.
    Godspeed.
    WF

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