John Surtees, CBE (1934- ) is a British former Grand Prix motorcycle road racer and Formula One driver. He is truly unique in motorsport, remains the only person to have won World Championships on both two and four wheels. Riding for the celebrated MV Agusta team, he won seven World Championships between 1956 and 1960. Then – with nothing left to prove – he made the transition from two wheels to four, winning the Formula One World Championship with Ferrari in 1964. The versatile racer – who also drove for the Lotus, Cooper, Honda and BRMworks teams – was equally at home in sports cars, winning the 1000km races at Nürburgring and Monza for Ferrari as well as the 1966 CanAm Championship in the Lola T70 he helped develop.
Surtees is the son of a south London motorcycle dealer. He had his first professional outing, when he was 15, in the sidecar of his father’s Vincent, which they won. However, when race officials discovered Surtees’s age, they were disqualified.
In 1955, Norton race chief Joe Craig gave Surtees his first factory sponsored ride aboard the Nortons. He finished the year by beating reigning world champion Duke at Silverstone and then at Brands Hatch. However, with Norton in financial trouble and uncertain about their racing plans, Surtees accepted an offer to race for the MV Agusta factory racing team. In 1956 Surtees won the 500cc world championship, MV Agusta’s first in the senior class. In the 1957 season, the MV Agustas were no match for the Gileras and Surtees battled to a third-place finish aboard a 1957 MV Agusta 500 Quattro. When Gilera and Moto Guzzi pulled out of Grand Prix racing at the end of 1957, Surtees and MV Agusta went on to dominate the competition. In 1958, 1959 and 1960, he won 32 out of 39 races and became the first man to win the Senior TT at the Isle of Man TT three years in succession. In 1960, at the age of 26, Surtees switched from motorcycles to cars full-time, making his Formula 1 debut racing for Lotus in the Monaco Grand Prix in Monte Carlo. He 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. He moved to Scuderia Ferrari in 1963 and won the World Championship for the Italian team in 1964. In December 1966, Surtees signed for Honda. He finished fourth in the 1967 drivers’ championship. In 1970, Surtees formed his own race team, the Surtees Racing Organisation, and spent nine seasons competing in Formula 5000, Formula 2 and Formula 1 as a constructor. He retired from competitive driving in 1972, the same year the team had their greatest success when Mike Hailwood won the European Formula 2 Championship. The team was finally disbanded at the end of 1978.
During his remarkable racing career Surtees won 290 of the 621 races he entered and claimed a further 103 podium finishes, recording 48 fastest laps and 100 record laps along the way.
In 1996, Surtees was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. In the 2016 New Year Honours, he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to motorsport.
Sources / More to Read:
John Surtees Official site
Wikipedia: John Surtees
MBike: Photo Album
Primotipo: Lotus 25 – Jim Clark – Monaco 1963…
ΜotoGP Legends: John Surtees
Tourist Trophy Races, Isle of Man, 1958 (National Motor Museum, UK)