SUR­TEES’ GOLDEN YEAR

Bri­tain's most highly dec­o­rated rider is awarded CBE 60 years af­ter his first world ti­tle and TT win

Motorcycle News (UK) - - New Bikes - By Stu­art Barker MCN CON­TRIB­U­TOR

John Sur­tees is now the most cel­e­brated mo­tor­cy­cle racer of all time hav­ing just been awarded a CBE to go with his MBE and OBE.

The 82-year- old was be­stowed the rank of Com­man­der of the Most Ex­cel­lent Or­der of the Bri­tish Em­pire in the Queen’s New Year’s Hon­ours List in recog­ni­tion not only of his achieve­ments in mo­tor­sport (Sur­tees re­mains the only man to have won both the Mo­togp and F1 world ti­tles), but also for his work with the Henry Sur­tees Foun­da­tion – the char­ity he set up af­ter the death of his son in a car rac­ing ac­ci­dent in 2009.

Speak­ing ex­clu­sively to MCN, Sur­tees said: “I am hon­oured to re­ceive this award. This year marks the an­niver­sary of me win­ning my first TT and mo­tor­cy­cle world cham­pi­onship in 1956 and of my win­ning the Canam Amer­i­can Sports Car Cham­pi­onship, and win­ning the Bel­gian and Mex­i­can For­mula 1 Grand Prix in 1966. I look upon this award as be­ing shared with those that I have worked with and have helped me through my ca­reer.”

Sur­tees won his first 500cc world ti­tle for MV Agusta back in 1956 and would go on to win a fur­ther six world crowns in the 350cc and 500cc classes as well as win­ning six Isle of Man TT races be­tween 1956 and 1960. Sur­tees’ record in mo­tor­cy­cling was truly as­ton­ish­ing: he took 38 Grand Prix wins from 49 starts! His TT record was equally im­pres­sive, with six wins and two fur­ther podi­ums from just 14 race starts.

Af­ter switch­ing to cars in 1961, Sur­tees went on to achieve the seem­ingly im­pos­si­ble by win­ning the F1 world ti­tle for Fer­arri in 1964. Tak­ing world ti­tles on both two and four wheels is an achieve­ment never likely to be re­peated as both dis­ci­plines have be­come more in­tensely fo­cused in re­cent decades.

For some, the news that Sur­tees has been awarded the CBE will come as a bit of a dis­ap­point­ment as many of his most ar­dent ad­mir­ers be­lieve that he has done more than enough to merit a Knight­hood. In 2013 an on­line pe­ti­tion was set up in an at­tempt to per­suade the Queen to dub him ‘Sir John’ but that par­tic­u­lar hon­our has re­mained elu­sive. Sur­tees, mod­est as ever, played down the is­sue when asked about it in 2013. “It might hap­pen but you never know,” he said. “The Govern­ment does tend to have rather a lot of things on its mind at the mo­ment.”

Sur­tees’ first gong came way back in 1959 when he was awarded the MBE for his ser­vices to mo­tor­cy­cle rac­ing. Al­most half a cen­tury passed be­fore he was given the higher rank of OBE in 2008. The CBE is the high­est hon­our any­one can achieve be­fore be­ing granted a Knight­hood. Surely it’s only a mat­ter of time? Af­ter all, Sir John Sur­tees does sound right – and it couldn’t be more de­serv­ing.

De­spite swap­ping his leathers for car rac­ing over­alls in 1960, Sur­tees still can’t re­sist the pull of two wheels Sur­tees rode his own Manx Nor­tons in 1955 In May 2014, Sur­tees in­vited MCN to view his home col­lec­tion

Tak­ing his first TT win

at the Is­land in 1956; 60 years later Sur­tees is still be­ing hon­oured To­tally un­ri­valled Rossi dipped his toe into the car rac­ing world but came nowhere near to match­ing Sur­tees’ form

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