It seemed Surtees was always destined for a life around motorcycles, being born the son of a motorcycle dealer. He quickly followed in these footsteps by taking an apprenticeship with Vincent, at the age of 16.
Surtees had his first taste of racing action, aged 14, in the side car of his fathers Vincent. The pair won the race but were later disqualified when the stewards discovered his age.
But he didn’t have to wait long for another taste of on-track action, as Norton gave Surtees his first racing seat in 1955. His season placed Surtees firmly on the racing map, as he was regularly seen beating the reigning world champion.
Surtees first championship came with the MV August team, where he won the 500cc championship in 1956. In 1958 and 1959 Surtees was left undefeated, achieving the 350cc and 500cc world titles both years. Despite loosing this winning streak Surtees became the first man to with three Senior TT championships in a row, in 1960.
Following this dominance over the field, Surtees took the leap to the Formula One, making his first appearance for the Lotus team. In only his second race, he scored his first podium, finishing in second. It wasn’t until he moved to Ferrari that he scored his first championship in 1964. It was in the same year that Surtees had his best Le Man finish, ending the race third.
Surtees parted ways with Ferrari after he was dropped from the Le Man team, due to health concerns following a life-threatening testing crash which left Surtees with one side of his body four inches shorter. Like a true champion, he moved to the Cooper-Maserati and went on to win even more races, thus proving his old team wrong.
After his racing career ended in 1972, Surtees remained a key racing figure with the development of the Surtees Racing Organisation, a team which won a Formula 2 championship.
In a classic circular journey, Surtees then opened his own motorcycle dealership- just as his father had done. During this time, he continued to be a key figure in classic rang events.
To this day, Surtees remains the only man to win top flight championships on both two and four wheels, a feat that led to him receiving his OBE in 2016.
—Charlotte Andrews, Correspondent (Sports)