Post 1945 Drivers
retired from DRIVING F1 to build his own GP Cars
The Year he became World F1 Champion
John Surtees is the first of England's angry young men to win the GP World Championship. While on the way, he captured seven motorcycle world championships and the Order of the British Empire. He is no patrician aristocrat-in or out of his Ferrari. But he is brave, tough, and enormously skillful. And he'll tear a strip off the reporter who calls him anything else.
One of America's cherished folk-myths is the story of the lad who springs from humble beginnings to blaze a glorious trail of achievement in the world of sports, or war, or high finance. It's a tale that inspired us all as small boys.
England is different. Until recently, only small rich boys could entertain such inspirational fantasies. Small un-rich boys were taught to applaud the success of their betters and not to rock the class-system boat. Today the boat is rocking madly at the hands of a horde of angry young men. Men not unlike John Surtees.
He was born in 1933. His father was a man named Jack who ran a motorcycle shop and raced a.Norton in sidecar events. Jack was good at his trade and good on his Norton and he raised a son who has all of his fine qualities, in spades. John quit school at 16 to join Jack in the shop, and he ran his first road race as passenger on Jack's sidecar.
In 1955 he won 65 of 72 races entered on a Manx Norton. In 1956 he joined MV Agusta and won the first of seven world championships.
He had his first serious go in cars in 1960 and was immediately marked as a comer. He has never had a good car, even as a member of the Ferrari team, but there's a lot in John Surtees to compensate for insufficient horsepower or poor handling. It is more than fitting that he won his first four-Wheel crown at Mexico driving a sick automobile.
He's been called sulky and oversensitive, but what he's won, he won the hard way, no family wealth, no friends in high places, just guts and tenacious virtuosity. Boy, if Horatio Alger could only have seen John Surtees hurling a Ferrari down the road.