John Surtees 1934 – 2017
I never knew John Surtees personally, but I am incredibly inspired by his life.
I’m reminded of his determination, skill and class. He did things his way, sometimes to his detriment in not having the best machinery. That is a characteristic that he shared with another favorite driver of mine, Dan Gurney. They both liked to tinker and improve the machinery. Always asking ‘how can I do it better?’ instead of focusing only on their driving. As Mark Hughes of Motor Sport Magazine stated:
“He turned Ferrari down for ’62, feeling he wasn’t ready. Yet Enzo asked him again for ’63, and this time he acquiesced, in many ways re-living his Agusta bike years, living in Italy, forming a bond with the autocratic boss, becoming a world champion again. But at Maranello there were always people ready to stand in between Ferrari and the driver, largely because the Old Man wouldn’t travel. Team manager Eugenio Dragoni was not a character Surtees could tolerate indefinitely – and it blew up. “Mr Ferrari said to me years later, ‘We shouldn’t remember the bad times, but the good times,’ I told him I couldn’t have agreed more. We both lost out. There was another title for the taking in ’66, maybe another two after that.”
Surtees seemed to me as someone who was looking to learn an improve throughout his life. If he made a mistake, he owned up to it and did his best to go forward with the best of intentions.
World Champion, rider, driver, constructor, team owner, individual, gentleman, Brit.
Godspeed Il Grande John.
To help a worthy cause, in honoring both Henry and John Surtees consider making a donation to the Henry Surtees Foundation.