Classic Racer - - HOW IT BEGAN -

Hav­ing through the years ren­o­vatedd a lovely 16th cen­tury Tu­dor house e near Ling­field, Sur­rey af­ter the com­pet­i­tive part of his ca­reer, John now built up a prop­erty busi­ness, while de­vot­ing time to motorsport con­sul­tancy, and restor­ing many of the mo­tor­cy­cles and cars he’d col­lected or had on loan that were as­so­ci­ated with his long ca­reer. He en­joyed demon­strat­ing these and other clas­sic ma­chines at nu­mer­ous events all over the world, but es­pe­cially at the an­nual Good­wood Fes­ti­val of Speed, where he rode BMW mo­tor­cy­cles and drove Mercedes-benz cars along­side Nor­tons and MV Agus­tas from his own sta­bles. Mo­tor­cy­cles re­mained his first love, and with the ad­vent of His­toric GP racing, John Surtees re­newed his racing li­cence for what proved to be his fi­nal com­pet­i­tive event, the 1986 French His­toric GP at Paul Ri­card, run as a sup­port race to the 500cc French GP. In that he fin­ished third on his Manx Nor­ton be­hind Amer­i­can Dave Roper and Kiwi for­mer World Cham­pion Hugh An­der­son, both on Match­less G50s. Af­ter that he de­cided to hang up his hel­met for any­thing ex­cept tests and demos, though it didn’t stop him from sam­pling Wayne Gard­ner’s fac­tory Honda NS500 two-stroke triple at Snet­ter­ton, and im­press­ing Honda race en­gi­neers with his per­cep­tive ques­tions and grasp of de­tail. John Surtees was mar­ried twice, first to Pa­tri­cia Burke in 1962, the cou­ple di­vorc­ing in 1979. His sec­ond wife was Jane Spar­row, whom he mar­ried in 1987, and with whom he had three chil­dren, Leonora, Ed­wina and his only son, Henry, who fol­lowed his fa­ther into mo­tor sport. Henry Surtees fin­ished sec­ond in the 2008 For­mula Re­nault UK Cham­pi­onship be­fore he trag­i­cally died in a freak ac­ci­dent in the For­mula 2 Cham­pi­onship race at Brands Hatch in July 2009, when a wheel from an­other car be­came de­tached in a crash and hit him on the head. He was just 18 years of age. John founded the Henry Surtees Foun­da­tion in his mem­ory, to as­sist those with brain or head in­juries.

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