Surtees honored with Order of the British Empire

Englishman John Surtees, to date the only man to have won world championships on two and four wheels, has been honored by Queen Elizabeth II with an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), announced with issuance of the annual birthday...

Englishman John Surtees, to date the only man to have won world championships on two and four wheels, has been honored by Queen Elizabeth II with an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), announced with issuance of the annual birthday honors list.

Surtees, 74, raced for the Norton works team in the 1950s, winning 68 of 76 races. He raced the for the Italian team MV Agusta, winning seven championships on bikes ranging from 350cc to 500cc. Italian fans called him "Son of the Wind."

He made a seamless move to race cars at the end of the '50s. His first race in a Cooper F3 car in 1960 produced a second-place finish to another beginner, eventual two-time world champion Jim Clark. Surtees drove F1 cars for Cooper then Lola before returning to Italy to drive for Enzo Ferrari, a move that secured a World Driving Championship in 1964, a season that went down to the final race in Mexico City. Surtees' second place bagged the series title after Clark's Lotus was felled by an oil leak and the other contender, Graham Hill in a BRM, was put off course by Surtees teammate Lorenzo Bandini.

Of fiery temperament, Surtees stormed out of Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966 and returned to Cooper F1 before moving to the new Honda team in 1967, securing victory at the Italian Grand Prix. He drove for Honda for another year before the car maker quit F1, setting Surtees to drive for BRM. He formed Team Surtees in 1970 and drove until 1973 when he quit driving to concentrate on running the team. The team survived until 1978.

Surtees, who most recently was involved in A1GP, earned the nicknames "Fearless John," "Big John" and "John the Great" as a competitor. Like many F1 racers of the day, Surtees campaigned other series, notably Can-Am races in which he drove a Lola. He suffered injuries in a massive crash of a Can-Am car in 1965.

Other F1 drivers honored by the queen include Stirling Moss, three-time world champions Jack Brabham and Jackie Stewart, all of whom she knighted, world champions Clark, Denis Hulme, Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill, who were made OBEs, and Mike Hailwood, winner of nine world motorcycling championships before driving for Team Surtees, Derek Bell and Davina Galica, who were awarded MBEs. Galica ventured into motor racing, including F1, after she medaled in Olympics competition as a downhill skier. Hailwood also earned the George Medal, the second-highest gallantry award that can be earned by a British citizen, for helping to rescue Clay Reggazoni from his burning car after the two collided in the 1973 South African Grand Prix.

Also on the birthday list was World Touring Car Champion Andy Priaulx of Guernsey, who was made an MBE, the first level of chivalric orders.

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About this article
Series A1GP , Formula 1 , Le Mans , MotoGP
Drivers Andy Priaulx , Nigel Mansell , Jackie Stewart , Jim Clark , Stirling Moss , Jack Brabham , John Surtees , Graham Hill , Mike Hailwood