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As a ninth grader, I first became aware of Surtees when he was driving for Ferrari. Since Ferrari were the big winners in the 60's, it was easy to keep up with and watch a lot of the races on the tube. His small size belied his tenacity and pugnaciousness. I guess being a longtime two-wheeler racer makes you that way. He made a contribution and will be missed by the older F1 fans.
Edits: 03/10/17Follow Ups:
one of my heroes.
Skeptical Measurer & Audio Scrounger
Riding Gran Prix circuits in the 50's-60's, he was a tiger in races. He rode a few makes, most notably MV Agustas with 4 cylinder motors, cleaning up on other prominent race machines by Triumph, Norton, and AJS, which were all technically inferior. He kind of felt those wins were meaningless because of the superior machine. But then he had a falling out with MV, started riding for Norton and still won! His time preceded Mike the Bike Hailwood. A lot people wanted to see them go head to head.
John had exactly one motorbike GP victory that was not on an MV and that was on a 250 NSU in 1955. He joined MV in '56 and left them at the end of 1960 to concentrate on F1.
51 MotoGP starts and 38 wins is not a bad ratio!
In 1960 he won both the 350cc & 500cc championships while placing 14th in the F1 championship.
I've seen John at the Goodwood Festival of Speed twice, once on an MV and the other time on his BMW 255 Cpmpressor.
A great guy who will be greatly missed.
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