John Surtees, the motorsports legend who's the only man to win world championships in motorcycle and Formula One competition, died Friday, March 10. He was 83 years old.
"The main thing is that whatever I've done, I've done from the heart." – John Surtees
Surtees' greatest fame in F1 came in 1964 when he won two races and finished second three times to capture the drivers championship and propel Ferrari to the constructors title. Dubbed "il Grande John" by the Scuderia fans, he returned Ferrari to the top of the motorsports world, but he infamously left the team after a falling-out with management in 1966. Surtees also raced in F1 for Honda, Lotus, Cooper, and others. He survived a crash during practice in 1965 while driving a Lola sports car, which broke his pelvis, ruptured his kidneys, and damaged his spine and left leg.
He oversaw his own racing operation in the 1970s, and his cars competed in F1, Formula 2 and F5000. Surtees also competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the 1960s and won the 1966 Can-Am title for Lola.
One of the few drivers who was equally talented on a motorcycle, Surtees counted seven titles on two wheels, dominating the circuit in the 1950s for Norton and the MV Agusta.
In a biography on his website, Surtees said he relished the competition above all else. "The main thing is that whatever I've done, I've done from the heart. I have loved being involved in first building and riding motorcycles and then driving cars – but above all, competing."
Surtees was born in England in 1934. His father was a motorcycle racer and his son, Henry, competed in Formula 2. Henry was killed during a crash in 2009 at Brands Hatch in England.
John Surtees' death immediately drew reaction from around the motorsports world, including Ferrari, MotoGP, and F1.
John Surtees, Motorsport legend and 1964 World Champion with Ferrari, passed away. Our thoughts are with his family pic.twitter.com/dVzAHSGo2A— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) March 10, 2017
The only man to win world championships on two and four wheels. RIP John Surtees ⬇️ https://t.co/Nx5MLIBc63— Formula 1 (@F1) March 10, 2017