Enthusiasm, passion, rigour, a detailed analysis of the race tracks and of his adversaries transformed Surtees’ long career into a continuous success in every class and on all kinds of tracks. Born in 1934 with an inherited passion for motorbikes, as a young man he dedicated himself to two wheels, debuting and winning his first official race in 1951 in the Excelsior B14 class 500.
John drove Vincents, Triumphs, MV Augustas and won 68 out of 76 races, guaranteeing him international fame as one of the most exciting, sensible and precise drivers of his generation. Flexible and scrupulous, he observed every single detail to be ahead of his competition and to get the best possible performance out of his machines.
Until the 60s “Big John” as he was called conquered one success after the other, for an unmatchable record of 37 Grands Prix, 44 podium places and an incredible number of fastest race laps. Surtees’ talent didn’t go unnoticed in the world of motor racing and soon he was offered a driver’s seat. In 1961 he started with Cooper and in 1962 with Lola, where he studied, improved technically and let his technicians make some mechanical interventions to make the British cars more competitive. In 1962, at Monza, the Englishman awoke Enzo Ferrari’s attention, impressed by John’s personality and style. Without hesitating Ferrari made Surtees the Scuderia’s number 1 driver in 1963. A memorable year, when John, called “Son of the Wind” by his new family from Maranello, gained his first Formula One World Title. A splendid 1964 followed with one of the most exciting duels in the history of racing. Despite his great passion for extremely competitive cars the following years didn’t satisfy John. It was the moment for looking at races other than Formula One.
Due to some differences with Enzo Ferrari, John concluded the season with a Cooper and changed his team several times until 1972 when he decided to form his own team, but without great success. He retired from racing in 1973, dedicating himself to his team, which he left in 1978, when he definitely abandoned the world of racing.