As you will have noticed by now, this is a special issue of Classic Racer.
As soon as we heard the news about John Surtees, both Malc and I agreed that CR should devote the first, serious section of this issue to the man himself.
As I sit here at Classic Racer towers, in a building that Mr Surtees opened for Mortons in 2004, I am reminded of how the man who won seven motorcycling GP world titles conducted himself each time I met with him. You can watch one of those meetings in the DVD attached to this cover (digital and export readers visit: classicracer.com/185dvd/). In it you’ll see Mr Surtees relaxed and happy, talking about racing. We can all relate to our shared passion.
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Over the years, whether we talked about the history of motorcycle racing, the current state of the sport or whatever had caught our eye in the world of road bikes, Mr Surtees was always the same – educated, interested and forthright.
Often I spent far longer than I was supposed to talking with Mr Surtees when I had the chance. We would end up discussing specifics of a certain motorcycle, about how it would ‘talk’ to the rider when being ridden. I found that there was a very great interest in exactly how modern rider aids and electronics work, too.
Once, I met with Mr Surtees directly from a ride on a modern bike with all the latest rider electronics fitted. We talked for over an hour on how the gizmos worked and – more importantly for the, then, just turned 80-year-old JS – how they feel when riding fast. His curiosity for finding out how changes can make something quicker was still burning bright – still that pure racer at heart. The legacy he leaves is one of style, speed and success. His like will not be seen again and we have lost both a true legend and a true gentleman of racing in his passing.