It’s with great sadness today that we report the passing of John Surtees, a legend in both two-wheeled and four-wheeled motorsport.
Surtees is best known for winning three 350cc Championship titles (1958, 1959, and 1960), four 500cc Grand Prix Championship titles (1956, 1958, 1959, and 1960), as well as the 1964 Formula One World Championship title.
This makes Surtees the only man to win a World Championship in both two-wheeled and four-wheeled racing categories. He was also the first person to will the Senior TT race at the Isle of Man TT, three times in a row.
Surtee’s racing career goes all the way back to when he was 13-years-old, racing his father’s Vincent. He won his first race, but was ultimately disqualified for being underage.
His first factory ride was with Norton in 1955, but Surtees is known best for his time with the MV Agusta brand, where he dominated the fields in 1958, 1959, and 1960 – winning 32 of 39 grand prix races in those years.
In 1960 and at the age of 26, John Surtees left motorcycle racing for the automobile world, making his debut with Lotus at Monaco. He won his second race ever in F1 (British Grand Prix), and would start from the pole position for his third race ever (Portuguese Grand Prix).
In 1963, Surtees joined the Scuderia Ferrari in Formula One, and the next year he would bring the Italian factory the 1964 World Championship trophy.
However, Surtees left Ferrari a few years later, after a disagreement that saw the British driver omitted from the Italian company’s 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans lineup. Ferrari had worried that Surtees had not full recovered from his bone-shattering crash the year before.
In 2013 Surtees received Segrave Trophy, as recognition for his victories at the highest level of two-wheeled and four-wheeled motorsport; in 2015 Surtees was made an honorary Doctor of Engineering by Oxford Brookes University; and in 2016, Surtees was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) by the Queen of England.
Passing away at the age of 83, John Surtees is survived by his wife Jane, his two daughters Edwina and Leonora, and motorsport fans around the world.