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John Surtees receives CBE in UK New Year Honours List

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John Surtees receives CBE in UK New Year Honours List
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Dec 31, 2015, 12:23 AM

John Surtees, the only man to win World Championships on two wheels and four, has been made a CBE in the UK New Year Honours List for services to motor racing.

John Surtees,
John Surtees, BMW Type 255 Kompressor
John Surtees
John Surtees - Ferrari 158
John Surtees
John Surtees
#272 1965 Honda RA272, class 6: John Surtees

The award is presented in the name of reigning British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, and Surtees is now a 'Commander of the Order of the British Empire'.

Surtees, 81, enjoyed a stellar motorbike racing career with 38 victories on the international stage, winning the premier 500cc class title (now MotoGP) on four occasions between 1956 and 1960, as well as three 350cc championships and six Isle of Man TT wins.

He switched to cars in 1960 – while still winning many top-level motorbike races that year – and continued his phenomenal record of success on four wheels.

His first of six Grand Prix victories came at the Nurburgring in 1963, but his crowning glory was winning the 1964 Formula 1 World Championship with Ferrari.

Surtees then bounced back from a life-threatening sportscar accident at Mosport Park in Canada in 1965 (due to a suspension failure on his Lola) to win the fearsome Can-Am series a year later.

While renowned for his motorbike and F1 achievements, Surtees was also brilliant in the sportscar field, winning the Sebring 12 Hours in 1963, the Nurburgring 1000km twice and the Monza 1000km.

In 1967, he took Honda’s second-ever F1 victory, having split with Ferrari in somewhat acrimonious fashion. It was to be his last F1 World Championship victory.

Surtees founded and drove for his own racing team in 1970, and while he retired from driving in 1972, he took that tenacious spirit into running his own operation.

Mike Hailwood won the 1972 Formula 2 title for Team Surtees, but it was disbanded in ’78 due to a lack of finance and John's health issues.

Surtees remained active in the sport through his son Henry, who was tragically killed in an FIA F2 race at Brands Hatch in 2009. Since then, John has kept Henry’s memory alive through his tireless charity work with the Henry Surtees Foundation.

Already an MBE for his bike racing achievements in 1959, Surtees received an OBE in 2008.

Now a CBE, he is the oldest surviving 500cc/MotoGP champion and F1 World Champion and undoubtedly one of the greatest talents to have graced any grid – be it on two wheels or four.

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About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers John Surtees
Author Charles Bradley