Historic trophy goes to legend

2013-03-08 09:27

LONDON, England - Motorcycle and car racer John Surtees has been awarded the historic Segrave Trophy, given to British nationals who have accomplished excellent demonstrations of the possibilities of transport.

The trophy citation reads: “For his outstanding career in two and four-wheeled motorsport, including seven motorcycle World championships, culminating in the unique achievement of being the only man to win a motorcycle World championship and the 1964 Formula 1 World championship”.


Tom Purves, chairman of the RAC, said: "John is one of the most accomplished and versatile sportsmen of all time. He is the only person in history to have won World championships on both two wheels and four yet, until today, his name was not on the distinguished list of Segrave Trophy winners.

"This award is made not as recognition of a lifetime of achievement but as a somewhat overdue recognition of a unique sporting triumph that would, doubtlessly, have been recognised at the time had it not been for Donald Campbell who broke the land and water speed records simultaneously that same year.

Surtees said: “Donald Campbell achieved his success on land and water in the same year which perhaps overshadowed my having taken four  years to put two and four-wheel titles together. I am honoured, as I approach the 50th anniversary of my F1 World championship, to receive this trophy not only on my behalf but also the world of two and four-wheel motorsport.”


Surtees started his racing career as a passenger for his father – a top sidecar racer – and although they finished first were were disqualified when it was discovered that John was too young to compete. Undeterred, he began competing in motorcycle road races and at 19 joined the celebrated Norton works team.

Two years later he was given a break with the MV Agusta team and won the 500cc World championship – the first of seven World titles he secured in five years and which resulted in him being made a Member of the Order of the British Empire.

In 1960 Surtees mixed two wheels with four by driving in Formula Junior, F1 and still for MV Agusta. Despite an offer in 1961 to drive for Lotus in F1, Surtees opted for a Cooper run by Reg Parnell. He moved to Ferrari in 1963 and took his first GP victory, going on to win the F1 World championship the next season.

Surtees became the only “Grand Master” of two and four wheels.

His career continued beyond his F1 championship year; in 1966 he was second in the World championship.

He's raced motorcycles and just about every type of car with remarkable success in almost every discipline: F1, Can-Am, F2, F5000 and Le Mans. As an engineer it is widely recognised that his input was a key part of bringing success to Ferrari in 1964.

He's now vice-president of the British Racing Drivers' Club and a consultant to a karting circuit and has worked tirelessly to encourage British racing talent. In 2008 Surtees was awarded an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in Queen Elizabeth's Birthday Honours list for his "services to motorsport and charity".

He set up the Henry Surtees Foundation in memory of his son who was killed in a freak accident while driving in a Formula 2 race at Brands Hatch in 2009. The foundation aims "to give more young people from the community at large an opportunity to experience the emotion, disciplines and learning that the world of motorsport can offer".