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Surtees a winner on many wheels

John Surtees, the only man to win world championships on two wheels and four, died on March 10, aged 83.

In a career spanning three decades, Surtees achieved a racing record which would be virtually impossible to replicate today: winning world championships in the top categories of both motorcycle racing and car racing.

Between 1951 and 1960, Surtees won seven motorcycle world championships, comprising four in the premier 500cc category and three 350cc titles.

In 1964, Surtees won his only Formula One world championship at the wheel of a Ferrari 158.

Surtees finished that year ahead of Graham Hill and Jim Clark in second and third respectively, while Australia’s Jack Brabham finished in equal eighth place with Peter Arundell.

While Surtees is best known for his success in a Ferrari, he is also responsible for one of Honda’s early achievements in Formula One.

At the 1967 Italian Grand Prix, Surtees drove a Honda RA300 to victory after passing Jim Clark and Jack Brabham to take the lead on the final lap.

The car was developed jointly by Honda and Lola, a relationship which led to the car becoming known colloquially as the Hondola.

Surtees switched from motorcycle racing to car racing in 1960.
Surtees switched from motorcycle racing to car racing in 1960.

Surtees continued to compete through 1968 in an updated Honda F1 car, the RA301, but the car was dogged by reliability problems throughout the season.

Sports car racing was not outside Surtees’ skill set either, and in 1964, he finished the gruelling Le Mans 24-hour race in third place, driving a Ferrari 330P.

Surtees also raced in the inaugural Can-Am sports-car series in 1966, and, at the wheel of a Lola T70 Mk 2, won the six-race championship. He also contested the Can-am series in 1967.

By this stage, one of the few challenges left for Surtees was constructing his own car and running his own racing team.

Spurred by his success in Can-Am racing, Surtees turned his attention to the newly formed Formula 5000 category.

In 1969, the new Surtees Racing Organisation fielded a car based on a Leda F5000 racing car. The team won five races out of 12 that season.

In 1970 the Surtees team entered Formula One racing, running a series of cars bearing the Surtees name until 1978.

Australian driver Alan Jones, who would go on to win the 1980 world championship — the first for Williams — had his first full-time Formula One drive with the Surtees team in 1976.

Surtees held a number of British honour awards, including an Order of the British Empire which he received in January 2016.

MOTOR MOMENTS

Tomorrow

Old’s Cool Car Cruise. Gates open at 8.30am, departing at 10.30am from Tomato Lake, Kewdale. $20 per car. Phone 0407 444 917 or 0400 782 199.

April 2

Curtin FM Car Spectacular. Cnr Manning and Elderfield roads, Waterford, 10am-4pm. Phone 9266 2121 or email q.glasson@curtinfm.com.au.

Everything Chrysler Day. Perth Motorplex, Ankertell Road, Kwinana Beach. See chargerclubofwa.asn.au or phone 0459 325 340.

Veteran Car Club Perth to Armadale Run. Vehicle display in Forrest Place, Perth, 9.30-11am. Email ljsharp@iinet.net.au.

April 8-9

Tiger Kart Club Carnival of Karts. Gemma Road, Henderson, from 9am both days. Free admission. See tigerkartclub.com.au.

April 9

British Auto Classic. Railway Reserve, Causeway Road, Busselton, 10am-2pm. Phone 9727 2049 or 9754 3379.

All Australian Car Day. Waroona Showgrounds, 10am-4pm. Phone 0418 936 952 or email aacdwaroona@dodo.com.au

April 23

Vintage Automobile Association Annual Swap Meet. Kings Meadow Polo Ground, Guildford, sellers from 6am, buyers from 7am.

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