John Surtees – the only man to win a world championship on two and four wheels – visited Brands Hatch today (8 September) to shake down three historic machines that had previously been out of action for several years.
“These have had a very long holiday, they haven’t been used!” Surtees quipped.
John founded his own team in 1966, building cars that competed in CanAm, Formula 5000, Formula Two and Formula One. The first car to be put through its paces at Brands Hatch today was the maiden Team Surtees’ machine to take on Grand Prix racing.
“The TS7 is our first Formula One car which was finished in July 1970 and came down here and raced in the Grand Prix after only one test at Goodwood. That’s now running again and we’ve done a total rebuild on it. Its back and totally original,” Surtees added.
John also tried out his Formula Two machine that has been lovingly restored after many years of neglect.
“The Formula Two car was in a very derelict state when I got it back. It’s the experimental TS15 that we built for the 1973 season but this was finished in the latter months of ’72. Carlos Pace then took it to Brazil and won at Interlagos with it. It remained in my factory but when I closed my team it disappeared! I located it again, it wasn’t totally complete but luckily we had quite a lot of original parts and we’ve now totally rebuilt it and it’s nice to see that back together.”
The vehicles have had many hours spent on them over a number of years, and John has had a supportive group assisting him.
“We do a bit here and a bit there, and they have taken three or four years to complete. But Goodwood are holding a festival and I am a principal guest and we thought we should get one or two of our cars there.”
Multi-skilled as ever, no sooner had John stepped out of a car was he hopping onto an historic motorcycle.
“The bike is basically a Grey Flash Vincent like I won my first ever race on and again we put it together and we’re running it for the first time for many years.
“I got so disillusioned when I had to close my race team that I went back to the factory and I rebuilt that bike then which was 1979. I then went to New Zealand with it and did a number of races, and I then came back, we came down here at the beginning of the 90s to do a John Surtees day for charity and since then it hasn’t run! So you’re talking about 20 years!”
Despite the long lay off in action, all three vehicles ran well, with only small problems to contend with.
“They’re not running badly. This is just a case of trying to bed them in and see if we can do anything else but there have been a few little problems but nothing drastic.”