On Bank Holiday Monday I popped over to Edenbridge, Kent, just south of London, where John Surtees was due to take part in the Edenbridge Fun Day with a demonstration of his first Formula One Car the Surtees TS7.
John was in good form and delighted to be promoting Edenbridge the town in which he based his racing team and the Henry Surtees Foundation that John set up in memory of son to give young people an opportunity to experience the emotion, disciplines and learning that the world of motorsport can offer.
Taking part in the demonstration were two of John’s bikes, he was seven time world motor cycle champion in 350 and 500 classes locking both out from 1957 to 1960, above a 1954 58p 500cc BMW Rennsport.
John’s 1956 Gullwing Mercedes 300SL also took part in the parade.
Among the former Surtees employees Peter Connew, who went on to design his own Formula One car after the Surtees TS7 seen in the background was finished and Bob Eggington who was workshop foreman at the Surtees factory.
Half way through the 1973 season Mike Hailwood joked with reporters that his Surtees TS14 was so unreliable that he used to take a book with him in the car to read while he was waiting to be towed back to the pits. Chassis #04 seen here lived up to it’s reputation when it developed a fuel leak just as Oliver Turvey was about to fire it up for the parade.
The Surtees TS7 chassis #01 also nearly blotted it’s copybook when it ejected an important piece of rubber from it’s starter motor meaning John needed a push start before joining the parade.
The Formula 2, second open wheel tier, Surtees TS15 of the type, and probably the same chassis, which Carlos Pace used to win a non Championship race in Brazil at the end of 1972, was driven by 2002 British Formula 3 Champion Robbie Kerr. In the background is the former Surtees factory building which is soon to be replaced by a supermarket.
You would not believe John was a man of 79 when he unleashed the 400 horsepower from the Ford Cosworth DFV, engine number 050, and smoked his tyres as he set off down the B2026 from Edenbridge Station in to town.
Surprisingly the 1960 4 cylinder 500 cc / 45 cui MV Augusta, on which John won the last of his seven motorcycle championships was even noisier than the 3 litre / 183 cui V8 Cosworth.
Above John is seen returning to the site of his former factory with his MV behind. As I learned last year when I attended the BRM Day a chance to see a Grand Prix car on the streets is never one to be missed.
Thanks for joining me on this “Big John Burns Rubber” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”. I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !