The legendary John Surtees occupies
a unique place in the history of motor racing. He
not only won seven motorcycle world titles between
1956 and 1960, he also switched to four wheels and
went on to claim a further crown in the Formula
1 World Championship.
When MV approached him at the end
of the 1955 season, young 21-year-old Surtees, who
was born into a well-to-do family of motorcycle
enthusiasts in Catford, had already won 77 races,
mainly with Norton 350s and 500s.
Inventor of a new style that was
challenged and that is at the roots of todays riding
technique with the body outstretched towards the
inside of the curve, he won another six titles in
the 350 and 500 classes between 1958 and 1960. Of
course they were easy years for MV due to the fact
that the leading rivals pulled out. But we have
to remember that Big John, as he was called, really
ran wild, shattering records previously set on racetracks
throughout Europe on a regular basis.
In 1959, Surtees' results were
even more spectacular, he triumphed in all the races
in both 350cc and 500cc classes. A year later, he
won both classes again, prevailing in five out of
his six 500cc races. By the end of 1960, Surtees
had scored an amazing 38 GP victories on two wheels.
In 1961 he turned to the world
of automobile racing, entering the annals of history
as the only rider who was ever able to win the world
championship title with both motorcycles and cars.
Indeed, he won the 1964 F1 title with Ferrari.
Following his long car-racing interlude
- first as a driver and then as a builder and engineer
- today he has returned to his first love by willingly
entering revival races, still fast and a great stylist.
F1 World Champion
Surtees displayed the same passion,
skill and professionalism in F1 as he had shown
in motorcycle racing. He moved to the Ferarri team
in 1963, after first learning the ropes at Lotus
and Parnell. It was a smart move, as he was soon
rewarded withhis first GP win at the Nurburgring.
Just one year later, he was crowned the F1 World
Champion. After spending much of 1965 recovering
from a major crash, he then left Ferarri midway
through 1966. He was apparently fed up with the
team's manager, Eugenio Dragoni and the internal
politics of the Italians.
In 1969, he became an F1 constructor
with his friend, Mike Hailwood. However, the marque
never enjoyed the racing success of either of its
founders and was closed in 1978. Surtees then went
on to become a property and a respected wroter.
In 1979, he returned to the Isle of Man to the scene
of his first victory and rode an exhibition lap.
He scored more then 350 vitories
on both 2 and 4 wheels in a diversity of races.
(350cc, 500cc, F2, F5000, F1, CanAm).
- 1949 - Started racing riding a Vincent Grey Flash.
He developed it while he was doing his engeneering
apprentiship with the Vincent HRD Company.
- 1954 - British Champion, Norton
- 1955 - British Champion, Norton
- 1956 - 500cc World Champion
- 1957 - 3rd in 500c World Championship
- 1958 - 350cc and 500cc World Champion
- 1959 - 350cc and 500cc World Champion
- 1960 - 350cc and 500cc World Champion
- 1964 - Formula 1 World Champion , Ferarri
- 1965 F1 - 5th in Championship Ferrari
- 1966 F1 - (Monaco and Belgian GP for Ferrari),
Ferrari; F1 - 2nd in Championship, Cooper, CamAm
series Champion, Team Surtees Lola T70-Chevrolet
- 1967 F1 - 4th in Championship, Honda
- 1968 F1 - 7th in Championship, Honda
- 1969 F1 - 11th in Championship, BRM
- 1970 F1 - (South African, Spanish, Monaco and
Dutch GP only for McLaren) McLaren F1 - 17th in
- 1971 F1 - 18th in Championship, Surtees
- 1972 F1 - only Italian GP with no point score,
- 1973 F2 - winner of Japanese and Imola, Surtees