It’s been announced that John Surtees, former World Champion racer both on motorbikes and in Formula 1, and the only man to have been world Champion in both disciplines, has died at the age of 83.
To be honest, I knew and know very little of him and his accomplishments, and was surprised to learn that he was still alive until this year, but it’s a name that instantly rings in my memories.
My Dad was an avid motorcycling fan, who had his own bike into the mid-Sixties, when I was ten. He had courted my mother on the bike, had won a shield for amateur moto-cross in Ashton-under-Lyme in the early fifties, before I was born, and would each year without fail be absent overnight on a visit to the Isle of Man and the TT Races.
I grew up with names like Geoff Duke, Mike Hailwood and John Surtees. I know Geoff Duke was Dad’s favourite, just like I have a special place in my heart for the likes of Eric Cantona and Paul Scholes. I have no idea what he thought of John Surtees, though I don’t doubt he applauded a man who won the World Championship four times on two wheels, and went on to win it on four, ahead of the likes of Graham Hill and Jim Clark.
He was a man who was part of my Dad’s life and world. I salute him for my Dad.