JOHN SURTEES

The man who wouldn’t set­tle for slow devel­op­ment

Classic Racer - - PADDOCK GOSSIP -

Dear CR, It is with a heavy heart that I write this let­ter hav­ing just heard of the pass­ing of John Surtees. Surtees was every­thing that I thought a racing gentle­man should be. He al­ways ap­peared to carry him­self with a cer­tain style and class, even for the time he stood out as an ex­po­nent of the racing world, who al­ways made for an ideal am­bas­sador. I was lucky enough to chat with the man a cou­ple of times over the years and hav­ing waited my turn to get a few min­utes with the racing icon, I was able to ask what his big­gest re­gret was in his ca­reer of rid­ing and driv­ing. He told me that he ‘should have been more pa­tient’ when deal­ing with the likes of Nor­ton and MV and said that his big­gest curse was that he wanted the devel­op­ment of a mo­tor­cy­cle to be hur­ried along so that it was markedly bet­ter from race to race as he felt it was needed. Hav­ing seen that steely de­ter­mi­na­tion in his eyes dur­ing those se­lected out­ings at his­toric events one can only imag­ine what a 25-year-old World Cham­pion John Surtees was like in those meet­ings about mak­ing fac­tory ma­chines even bet­ter! Es­pe­cially when he wasn’t hear­ing what he wanted from those who de­cided on whether things were go­ing to hap­pen or not. Dougie Brether­ton

Hello Dougie, thanks for the email. From what we un­der­stand of Mr Surtees in full flow, he was cer­tainly a force to be reck­oned with (just like so many of the most suc­cess­ful rac­ers of their time) and you cer­tainly wouldn’t want to be on the re­ceiv­ing end of an an­noyed JS if he thought that your ac­tions were rob­bing him of vi­tal sec­onds out on track. There could well be a fu­ture fea­ture in this idea. Would you, dear reader, like to see a CR fea­ture on the rac­ers of yes­ter­day with fear­some rep­u­ta­tions in terms of them get­ting done what they wanted through sheer bloody-mind­ed­ness? If you’d like to see that (and have any sug­ges­tions as to who should be in the ar­ti­cle) then let us know. Tony

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