Well done Mike Nicks who has managed to blend a lightness to the thorough captions to the generous photographs in this book, with enough technical detail to appeal to both the casual 'dipper' and the enthusiast in this new book that is the first and only to cover the whole John Surtees amazing career.
The only man to have won World Championships on both two and four wheels, with Mv Agusta and Ferrari, John Surtees achievement is not often recognised or praised, but this book does both and with out repeating the cliches of others, bringing new material to the reader. Also applause for the publisher who arranged for a contribution from the sale of every copy to go to the charity set up by John to honour Henry, his son who was tragically killed in a freak accident whilst racing early in his career.
I would strongly recommend this book as an addition to your library or as a gift, it impresses on many levels and feels like value for money, especially if you hunt around as there are signed copies available for those that are quick...
John Surtees, Mike Nicks and the publishers EVRO have done a wonderful job with this publication. It takes the reader on a journey with the Surtees family from a very young Surtees with Dad's borrowed leathers, through his motorcycle racing days, car racing years, car constructor and Team Surtees, to the tragic death of his son Henry in 2009, aged 18. With superb photographs, many from John's own collection, it's like looking through a personal family album. You can hear the sounds of Manx Nortons and four cylinder MVs from the 50s and 60s and there's a smell of Castrol R in the air. All those nostalgic memories from a different era come flooding back with every page turn. With Royalties from this book going to the Henry Surtees Foundation, which assists people with brain or physical injuries caused by accident, it makes a very worthwhile purchase. An incredible present for any two or four wheel enthusiast.
Absolutely fascinating. By giving his whole career starting with motor bikes you can see how Surtees liked to be involved in the mechanical set up and preparation of his cars. You can see also why he lost all patience with BRM and Aston Martin, You can see also how the divorce from Ferrari took place. There is the example of Dragoni protesting his own car's win! Unbelievable.
Yet there are two things this book definitely isn't. Firstly it is not a warts and all story. There is very little about his relationship with the above two teams or Jim Hall or Honda; all of whom contributed to the decline of Surtees' health. Why, for example, would Honda undermine Surtees with the air cooled V8 car? There is certainly no discussion or criticism of his fellow drivers beyond a disagreement with Stewart over a way forward with safety which would help car safety without being lethal for bikes.
There is not even very much on his relationship with Eric Broadly and the wonderful Lolas with which Surtees got so much success. I have read elsewhere that the Lola Mk 4 chassis was so flexible that, if you lifted one wheel right off the ground, the other three did not lift. The T70 and T100 F2 car were central to Surtees having a huge number of fans at their races. But there are few photos of these cars and little discussion as to why subsequent Lola CanAm cars did not carry the fight to the McLaren steamroller. Their overwhelming success followed by that of the Porsches contributed heavily to the downfall of CanAm which never again had competition like that first season.
So despite the weight this is not a hugely full photographic record, certainly not race by race. Surtees' career is so long and varied that, in some ways, this skims through his very full life. All the same this is a full 5 star book. The highlights are the revelation that the all conquering Team Surtees Can-Am effort was the driver, one mechanic some volunteers and a borrowed garage. And that Team Surtees was, in effect, Lola Works except Ferrari would not allow Surtees to drive for another manufacturer.
This great big book is not a biography or autobiography, which perhaps may come later. It a compendium of thoroughly captioned photographs spanning some of the most significant decades in motorsports, from John Surtees' active racing years from the 1950s to the 1970s and beyond. I was privileged to watch and report on him at many race tracks and was flattered that he quoted me in his first book, "John Surtees SPEED." Valentino Rossi's introduction is testament enough.
Some reviewers have implicitly criticized the book for being `only' a photo collection, as if that approach detracted from the reading and viewing experience. If, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, this could have been a 1,000-page tome. Every page of photographs here is a new and fascinating adventure. Indeed, the only thing missing (what, no CD?) is the sounds of the great machines. Oh yes, and maybe a dash of Castor Oil for nostalgia buffs.
It is difficult to overstate the thoroughness with which the book was created. Few significant elements in John Surtees' career are omitted, starting with his NSU and Vincent motorcycle racing through his Norton and MV world championships and Isle of Man achievements into his four-wheel racing with Lotus, Lola, Cooper, Honda and Ferrari F1, F2 and sports cars, and finally his own cars. Well, all right, one might have hoped for a photo of John Surtees and his father Jack in the tiny Hillman van in which they would, memorably, bring his race bikes to the track.
More than anything, the book, co-created with Mike Nicks, speaks powerfully to the character of a great man who achieved magnificently--as everyone knows, he was the first and almost certainly the only racer ever to achieve MotoGP and Formula 1 world championships on two and four wheels (Rossi comments interestingly and insightfully on the achievement).
It is much more. It enables Surtees' character to shine through: tough, persistent and brilliantly talented, true, but also humble, modest and fundamentally decent in his approach to life, to his racing and to others. In this he contrasts significantly with admittedly great champions from other eras, so driven, so consumed with the need to win that they dealt unethically, even amorally, with the competition. You know them. Surtees never did that, or needed to.
The book ends with a poignant words-and-pictures tribute to Henry Surtees, John's talented racer son, who died so tragically (and, basically, unnecessarily) while racing. The appendix covers Surtees' racing record. This is a very important historical document that anyone interested in two- and/or four-wheel motorsports should acquire
Anybody with an interest in Motor Bikes or Motor Racing should find this book and the story of John Surtees fascinating. Multiple world champion on bikes as well as F1, Can Am champ plus. The tragic death of his son and his work for charity show what an all round hero Big John is. Time he was knighted.
You need to shop around to get the best price on this book. It is beautifully produced with many images never seen before. Essential reading for anyone interested in the two and four wheel racing of the period.