British motor cyclist and motor racing driver who won seven world championship titles in motor cycling besides the 1964 world motor racing drivers' championship.
The son of a Croydon motor-cycle dealer, Surtees served a five-year apprenticeship with the Vincent motor cycle company and started his racing career in 1951. After riding for the Norton works team in 1955, he joined the dominant MV-Augusta team and gained his first 500 cc title. 1958, 1959, and 1960 saw Surtees win the championships in both the 500 cc and 300 cc classes. He also won Tourist Trophy (TT) events on the Isle of Man in 1956, 1958, 1959, and 1960. However, in 1959 he was also racing Cooper cars in Formula Junior and Formula Two, as well as a Lotus in certain Grands Prix. He retired from motor cycling after the 1960 season to concentrate on motor racing. After driving Lolas in 1962 Formula One events, he joined the Ferrari works team in 1963 and won the 1964 drivers' title with victories in the German and Italian Grands Prix.
In 1965, Surtees suffered serious injuries after crashing his Lola sports car in a Can-Am race but he recovered to win the Can-Am series the following year. In 1967 he joined the Honda works team making their debut in Formula One, winning the 1967 Italian Grand Prix. After an unsuccessful season with BRM in 1969, Surtees concentrated on developing his own cars and the Surtees TS7 made its first appearance at the 1970 British Grand Prix. Although not successful in Formula One, a Surtees driven by Mike Hailwood (1940–81) won the 1972 Formula Two championship; the cars were also prominent in Formula 5000. Their creator retired from driving in 1973 and by 1978 the Surtees team had pulled out of Formula One racing.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).