John Surtees, Goodwood Festival of Speed, 2014

John Surtees, champion in cars and on bikes, dies at the age of 83

2017 F1 season

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John Surtees, the 1964 Formula One champion and only man to win world titles for cars and bikes, has passed away at the age of 83.

Surtees had been admitted to hospital last month with a respiratory condition and passed away this afternoon.

“We deeply mourn the loss of such an incredible, kind and loving man as well as celebrate his amazing life,” said the Surtees family in a statement. “He has set a very real example of someone who kept pushing himself at his peak and one who continued fighting until the very end.”

“John was a loving husband, father, brother and friend. He was also one of the true greats of motorsport and continued to work tirelessly up until recently with The Henry Surtees Foundation and Buckmore Park Kart Circuit.”

His family said Surtees’ wife Jane and daughters Leonora and Edwina were with him when he passed away. Surtees’ son Henry died in a Formula Two crash at Brands Hatch in 2009.

“We would like to thank all the staff at St George’s Hospital and The East Surrey Hospital for their professionalism and support during this difficult time for us,” they added. “Thank you also to all of those who have sent their kind messages in recent weeks.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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25 comments on “John Surtees, champion in cars and on bikes, dies at the age of 83”

  1. Very sad news :(

  2. Big John won’t be forgotten, a true legend and icon of motorsport.

  3. RIP John.

  4. 3211578569074366
    10th March 2017, 15:51

    Ride eternal, Sir John Surtees.

  5. petebaldwin (@)
    10th March 2017, 15:54

    Very sad news however at 83, he’s had a brilliant life. The word “legend” gets used far too often these days but I don’t think anyone would even hesitate here.

    A true icon not only of F1, but of all motorsport who will never be forgotten.

  6. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
    10th March 2017, 16:11

    Oh, after reading about his achievements, I concur with others here as naming him a true legend. Rest in peace.

  7. Such a shame, a lovely man and true gentleman. Rest in peace John.

  8. salute.

  9. A true legend of the racing world, RIP

  10. Its probable no-one will ever emulate his unique achievements. R.I.P John Surtees.

  11. I was fortune enough to go to the Indy car race in Birmingham Alabama and visit the Barber Motorsports Museum, where they have both his championship bike and F1 car on display. Very cool to see them side by side.

  12. RIP to a true great and a gentleman.

  13. He was a true sporting gentleman, and will be remembered as a great racer. R.I.P.

  14. I feel incredibly sad at this news, when the words “legend” and “greatest” are bounded about like the opinion becomes fact, I look at some one like John Surtees, his history,his ability and just how precious it was to have someone like him around to remind us all.

    He was a gentleman, he suffered at the hands of sport’s politics and yet despite this, he was a man who understood the vehicle he drove and turned it into something I will always regard as one the the most amazing achievements in motoring racing history. I say racing history rather than F1 as he, oh did he, mastered 2 wheels and 4.

    Thank you John Surtees for being a real hero to me, may you family and numerous friends throughout the world cherish such an extraordinary person, I do, I have a genuine tear in my eye at his passing.

  15. Derek Edwards
    10th March 2017, 17:48

    A genuine and worthy champion who did so very much to improve his sport and whose achievement on two and four wheels is unlikely ever to be repeated, but achieved so much more besides. A great man.

  16. Sad news. One of the great technical drivers.

  17. This year’s Goodwood would be very different..

    RIP.. ;_;

  18. So sad. One of my heroes in motorsport. A real class act.

  19. FlyingLobster27
    10th March 2017, 18:18

    Very sad to see this headline. John Surtees was a legend, even by the standards of an age in which racers could perform in multiple series. From motorcycles (7 Grand Prix titles) to single seaters (F1 1964) and sports cars (Sebring 12 Hours and Can-Am champion), not to mention a constructor with some success in junior championships, he had it all. So long, John.

  20. I first learned about John Surtees back when he was racing and winning at the Isle of Man TT. He was a quiet, very fast gentleman. Definitely one of my heroes.

  21. I wish there was a way to edit these posts, since right after I submitted my comment, I realized that calling Surtees my hero didn’t go far enough, since he was also my first role-model, and was the actual reason I began road-racing motorcycles long ago. If you want to learn more about his amazing record, find one of the audios of the IoM TT races he was in. Just Google Duke TT, they have the recordings available.

    1. It’s ok @ChuckL8 your ammendment for me, I read, and understood why you needed to add (if I could give a thumbs up to your comment I would), I often feel the same about being able to edit, but it’s a dynamic forum and others could be responding to the words you typed that they see in front of them, rather than the edited post.

      1. And now I feel like editing. It’s a just a sad day, there will be hundreds of comments on testing in Barcelona today, pretty much all will be hyperbole, based on nothing but what the teams were testing and commenters will extrapolate what ever conclusions they wish to make.

        Yet some-one that in my opinion never got a knighthood (and while someone like Sterling Moss did) has passed away that with actual evidence shows he is a true racing legend passes away and will go largely ignored.

        1. @chucklb @glimiril I didn’t know much about him before, only just learning now that he has passed away. I only just watch the “Legends of F1” programme about John Surtees on Sky Sports, and what a man he was.

          His transition from bikes to cars was remarkable. He seems to generally just be fast in/on any vehicle. It seems that it was only because of how some of the politics in F1 made him uncomfortable, that he turned down some front running cars, otherwise he surely would have had multiple F1 world championships to go with his multiple championships on 2 wheels. As the gentleman that he was, he doesn’t seem to dwell on that too much. Legend indeed.

  22. Before I even got into F1, when I was just kid around 8 or 9 years old, I used ride my bicycle in the streets when it was raining, pretending I was Surtees at the Isle of Man or other tracks. A couple of years later when I became s devoted Jim Clark fan, the only driver I didn’t mind beating him, was Surtees.

    What a racer, what a man: all of the things are positive and that I love about motorpsort.

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