He’s the only person to win world titles on two wheels and four, he ran his own Formula One team, he was in charge of Britain’s A1GP entry – and now John Surtees can add the OBE to the MBE he earned in 1959 for his motorcycling exploits.
The 74-year-old, who acts as ambassador, advisor and talent-spotter for the Racing Steps Foundation, has been appointed to the second level of the order for his services to motorsport and charity in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
Surtees won seven World Motorcycle Championships, then proved equally adept with cars. He drove for several teams, winning the F1 title in 1964 with Ferrari before tensions with management led him parting company with the Italian team.
Other victories included the North American CanAm Championship for sports cars and six Isle of Man TT races. In total, he won 290 of the 621 races he entered and claimed a further 103 podium finishes.
He served as team principal of the British entry in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport for the first two years of that series, and is roving ambassador for the Racing Steps Foundation (RSF), which helps talented but impoverished young British racing drivers advance in the sport.
RSF founder Graham Sharp said: “John is one of this country’s most under-rated sporting heroes who works selflessly and tirelessly behind the scenes to promote the British motorsport industry and encourage British motor racing talent. My only regret is that he wasn’t awarded a Knighthood which he truly deserves.”
Surtees said: “Many years ago I was fortunate enough to receive the MBE. To now receive the OBE makes me doubly proud – not just for personal reasons but for British motorsport which I’ve been so privileged to serve in so many different ways over the years.
“It’s no secret that I believe British motorsport doesn’t get a fair crack of the whip when you consider the massive contribution it makes to British sport generally and the British economy. So this honour is most welcome from a personal point of view but, more importantly, because it recognises the value of two and four wheel motorsport to our country.”
* BMW’s multiple world touring car champion Andy Priaulx has been appointed MBE for his services to sport and for voluntary service to the community in his native Guernsey. He said: “It is quite a surprise to receive an envelope with the royal logo on – I was really taken aback and very honoured to read they wanted to bestow the MBE on me. I love my racing and am proud to carry the flags of both Guernsey and the UK on my car and overalls, so recognition of this sort is something really special.”