29 Facts About John Surtees


John Surtees founded the Surtees Racing Organisation team that competed as a constructor in Formula One, Formula 2 and Formula 5000 from 1970 to 1978.


John Surtees was the ambassador of the Racing Steps Foundation.


John Surtees's father Jack Surtees was an accomplished grasstrack competitor and in 1948 was the South Eastern Centre Sidecar Champion.


John Surtees had his first professional outing, which they won, in the sidecar of his father's Vincent at the age of 14.


John Surtees entered his first race at 15 in a grasstrack competition.


John Surtees first gained prominence in 1951 when he gave Norton star Geoff Duke a strong challenge in an ACU race at the Thruxton Circuit.


John Surtees finished the year by beating reigning world champion Duke at Silverstone and then at Brands Hatch.

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However, with Norton in financial trouble and uncertain about their racing plans, John Surtees accepted an offer to race for the MV Agusta factory racing team, where he soon earned the nickname figlio del vento.


John Surtees however continued on two wheels and did not enter car racing until the following year.


In 1960, at the age of 26, John Surtees switched from motorcycles to cars full-time, making his Formula 1 debut racing in the 1960 BRDC International Trophy at Silverstone for Team Lotus.


John Surtees made an immediate impact with a second-place finish in only his second Formula One World Championship race, at the 1960 British Grand Prix, and a pole position at his third, the 1960 Portuguese Grand Prix.


On 25 September 1965, John Surtees had a life-threatening accident at the Mosport Park Circuit while practising in a Lola T70 sports racing car.


Baime in his book Go Like Hell says John Surtees came out of the crash with one side of his body four inches shorter than the other.


John Surtees was omitted from the driver line-up with one works Ferrari to be driven by Mike Parkes and Ludovico Scarfiotti, and the other by Jean Guichet and Lorenzo Bandini.


When John Surtees questioned Ferrari team manager Eugenio Dragoni as to why, as the Ferrari team leader, he would not be allowed to compete, Dragoni told John Surtees that he did not feel that he was fully fit to drive in a 24-hour endurance race because of the injuries he had sustained in late 1965.


Ferrari finished second to Brabham-Repco in the Constructors' Championship and John Surtees finished second to Jack Brabham in the Drivers' Championship.


John Surtees finished the season driving for the Cooper-Maserati team, winning the last race of the season.


John Surtees competed with a T70 in the inaugural 1966 Can-Am season, winning three races of six to become champion over other winners Dan Gurney, Mark Donohue and Phil Hill as well as the likes of Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon.


The car was replaced by the Honda RA300 for the Italian Grand Prix, where John Surtees slipstreamed Jack Brabham to take Honda's second F1 victory by 0.2 seconds.


In 1970, John Surtees formed his own race team, the John Surtees Racing Organisation, and spent nine seasons competing in Formula 5000, Formula 2 and Formula 1 as a constructor.


John Surtees retired from competitive driving in 1972, the same year the team had their greatest success when Mike Hailwood won the European Formula 2 Championship.


John Surtees continued his involvement in motorcycling, participating in classic events with bikes from his stable of vintage racing machines.


John Surtees remained involved in single-seater racing cars and held the position of chairman of A1 Team Great Britain, in the A1 Grand Prix racing series from 2005 to 2007.


In 2010, John Surtees founded the Henry John Surtees Foundation in his son's memory, as a charitable organization to assist victims of accidental brain injuries and to promote safety in driving and motorsport.


John Surtees was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1992 when he was surprised by Michael Aspel.

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In 1996, John Surtees was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.


John Surtees married three times, first to Patricia Burke in 1962; the couple divorced in 1979.


John Surtees died of respiratory failure on 10 March 2017 at St George's Hospital in London, at the age of 83.


John Surtees was buried, next to his son Henry, at St Peter and St Paul's Church in Lingfield, Surrey.