The sixth annual ‘Henry Surtees Foundation Team Karting Challenge’ was staged once again at the prestigious Mercedes-Benz World Circuit, Brooklands on Tuesday 11 July 2017 (home of the first British Grand Prix) and raised the highest sum ever – an incredible £81,573.48 for the Henry Surtees Foundation and Brooklands Museum before direct costs to contractors. The event received overwhelming support; many of which wanted to pay tribute to charity founder John Surtees.
The full grid of 35 teams consisted of 140 professional and amateur drivers all battling it out in a 2hr endurance race in Daytona’s high-performance, two-stroke Dmax karts. The race was officially started by five times Le Mans Champion Derek Bell MBE. The karting challenge saw exciting racing all down the field, and the unpredictable weather caused a fair share of drama with multiple yellow flags, bunching up, spectacular manoeuvres and spin offs.
As Jane Surtees, widow of the late John Surtees CBE dropped the chequered flag it was Team Titan that raced into pole position, maintaining their place on the podium for the third consecutive year with their four-man team comprising of Martin O’Neil, his sons Jack O’Neil, Andy O’Neil and Owen Jenman.
Team Manager of Titan Martin O’Neil said ‘We are absolutely thrilled to have won the 6th annual Henry Surtees Foundation Team Karting Challenge for three consecutive years. It was a great battle in challenging and wet weather conditions. Our race strategy, early refuel stop and consistency on track brought home the victory. We always support the event as its one of the highlights of our year. A big thank you to The Henry Surtees Foundation team, Daytona Motorsport and marshals, it’s been a fantastic day once again’.
In hot pursuit and in second place was team ‘Choctails’ with its drivers Simon Delamare, George Turner, Alex Burgess and Calum Jones, who were also awarded the Corporate Award for the second consecutive year. The accolade is for a team, considered by the judges to have demonstrated outstanding racing prowess for a corporate team that had competed without a racing license holder. Choctails Team Manager Simon Delamare said ‘it’s the second time that we have taken part in the event and it’s great to secure our place back on the podium. We know the importance of the ‘H’ Trophy’. As a child I followed the career of John Surtees and more latterly Henry Surtees in F2, it is an honour to take part in this event in his memory’.
Completing the podium in third position was Ginetta with drivers Charlie Robertson, Sennan Fielding and Jordan Sanders and Michael Simpson, the latter also setting the fastest lap time of 43.512 seconds.
Awards host Steve Rider also gave a special mention to regular HSF competitors Metropolitan Police Motor Club who worked tirelessly up the pack and fought hard to second position to then only run out of fuel dropping them back to eighth place.
Team P&M donned chequered armbands as fitting tribute to John Surtees. Last year the foundation donated £14,576 to Valence School in Westerham for specialist ‘wheelchair’ friendly outdoor equipment. Paul’s son attends the school and see’s first-hand its benefits.
HSF Race commentator Chris Pullman said ‘it was the best race in the events history, full of drama, unpredictable weather and even the torrential rain at the end of the race didn’t dampen the team spirits. Although the poor marshals must’ve be drenched! The Surtees parade was bigger than in previous years and far more poignant. I am sure John would’ve been proud of the event’.
Throughout the day novice racers mixed with motor sport professionals. Motorsport magazine, Kartforce, Carlin returned once again, along with the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance Trust, one of the beneficiaries of the HSF. Also on site were representatives from the various Air Ambulance and Blood Bikes groups from across the country that the foundation has helped fund including Kent, Surrey and Sussex, Northumbria, Cumbia and Yorkshire. Guests were even treated to a flypast by the KSAAT Air Ambulance, again wanting to show their appreciation.
The prize giving Champagne reception took place in the impressive state-of-the-art Mercedes-Benz World, where trophies were presented by motorcycle World Champion Freddie Spencer. The evening was hosted by Steve Rider and Henry Hope-Frost, and included interviews with competitors, and special guests culminating in a fundraising auction by Malcolm Barber of Bonhams featuring exclusive artwork, memorabilia and experiences raising a staggering £24,800 alone.
The 2017 event was the highest profile event yet and featured a special tribute to the charities founder, John Surtees CBE, who sadly passed away in March. During the karting interval, celebrity drivers and riders took to the Mercedes-Benz track for a spectacular demonstration of Surtees vehicles (both two and four wheels) to honour John Surtees. Vehicles include:-
John Surtees Road and Race Cars:
- Lola T70 to commemorate John Surtees winning the inaugural Canadian-American Sports Car Championship in 1966; it was Lola Cars greatest success in their eight year history. The car was also raced by Graham Hill, and was debuted for Team Surtees at Snetterton. Reunited with Damon Hill OBE and driven by owner Mike Whittaker
- TS7 – The first Formula 1 car built by Team Surtees at its Edenbridge base, which John Surtees raced at the British Grand Prix in Brands Hatch in 1970. Driven by 5 times Le Mans legend Derek Bell MBE
- TS10 – The Surtees TS10 Formula 2 car designed and built by the Surtees team in Edenbridge. John Surtees won the Japanese Grand Prix and Imola Gold Cup in 1972 and the Japanese Grand Prix. Driven by Alexander Simms
- TS15 – Formula 2 car designed and built by the Surtees team which Carlos Pace car drove to victory in the prestigious Interlagos race in Brazil Driven by Scott Malvern
- TS19 -The Surtees TS19 Formula One car was a new design from the Edenbridge Team. A new young driver, Alan Jones, was given the opportunity to drive. He finished 2nd first time out at Brands Hatch to the World Champion James Hunt. He then followed with 5th place in the British and Belgium Grand Prix, and 4th place in the Japanese Grand Prix. Surtees chose a controversial sponsorship deal with Durex condoms which went on to win an advertising award. Driven by Oliver Turvey
Motorcycles played an important part of John’s life. It was particularly poignant to see the bikes out on track with the cars at an event that meant so much to him.
John Surtees Motorcycles:
- The 1949 500cc Vincent Grey Flash, the motorcycle on which John Surtees won his first ever race and considered it the most important race of his life. John Surtees built the Vincent Grey Flash motorcycle in 1979 using a large number of parts from the original machine that he built in 1950 whilst working as an apprentice at the Vincent Company. It was the first of many wins before he transferred to a Norton to compete in International events – Ridden by former road racer Freddie Spencer
- F Norton 500cc Experimental Prototype – John purchased the remains of this bike in 1992, working with the former Chief Mechanic of the Norton works team, Charlie Edwards the pair scoured the country to locate original parts. They were fortunate to find the unique trailing link front forks that the bike was tested with and a number of other parts. They worked closely together to make sure they got the restoration right. In 1998 the machine was finally started up and John ran it for the first time at the Goodwood Festival of Speed – ridden by Stuart Garner, CEO of Norton Motorcycles.
- 1959 350cc Manx Norton R.Petty Special – Ray Petty was a noted tuner and preparer of Manx Nortons. This machine has shorter stroke engine to standard, Ray copied the 78mm x 73mm Bore & Stroke of the Joe Craig Works Nortons of 1954 – Ridden by British former Grand Prix motorcycle road racer and Saloon car racer Stuart Graham – the only winner of TT’s on both 2 and 4 wheels (post war)
- 1960 MV Agusta four-cylinder GP motorcycle – John Surtees won seven motorcycle championships riding for MV Agusta and 6 Isle of Man TT’s – Ridden by former TT racer Mat Oxley
Former motorcycle World Champion Freddie Spencer said ‘it’s a privilege to be here today and ride John’s bike in the parade. His reassuring hand on my shoulder, the words of encouragement and advice that he gave right up to the end meant so much to me and many others’.
Another tribute came from Oliver Turvey ‘today I drove the TS19 in the parade, it was my first time driving it, and it was phenomenal to sit in such an historic car and pay tribute to John Surtees. I first met John when I was 15 years old at a karting event when Henry was starting out. He was always so supportive and gave me great advice. He was instrumental in my career, if it wasn’t for John and the Racing Steps Foundation I would be where I am today racing professionally. When Henry passed away, I was keen to support the foundation as much as I could. The event is growing year on year and I’m sure that John would be very proud of what everyone has achieved today’.
Alexander Simms said ‘It’s a fantastic event and one I am proud to be involved with. I was a fellow team mate of Henry’s and his death hit me hard and for everyone that knew him. It was only natural to help the foundation in raising awareness of its respective causes. John was also a tremendously kind and humble man and a great mentor to me too and I will always be grateful for all the support he has provided me with my career’.
Stuart Garner CEO of Norton Motorcycles said ‘It’s a fabulous day, aside from his own personal achievements on four and two wheels; John leaves a lasting legacy through the work of the foundation. What I have experienced today is warmth and passion by all involved. I only wish I had known John personally, if he was here today I would’ve shook his hand and said ‘thank you’ for giving back, for inspiring youngsters, providing opportunities and for saving countless lives’.
The day coincided with a special exhibition at Mercedes-Benz World entitled: John Surtees – A Master on Two Wheels, A Legend on Four which showcases the life, career and vehicles of the man that Lewis Hamilton described as a ‘legend of the sport’. The display includes a huge timeline charting the life and career of Surtees – from his time on bikes, to his switch to four wheels – his move into team ownership and charity work. Plus a Sky Sports documentary that was commissioned following his sad passing in March this year, and a number of cars from the collection retained by his estate. The exhibition remains open until 31 August 2017 and is FREE to visit.
The Henry Surtees Foundation would like to say a special ‘thank you’ to everyone for helping to make the 6th Annual Henry Surtees Foundation such a successful day . . . to the celebrities, volunteers, Brooklands College students, Brooklands Museum, Mercedes-Benz World, HSF staff, racing competitors, photographers, Blood Bikes, Air Ambulances and to all those that either donated to or took part in our fundraising auction. It is much appreciated.
Images courtesy of Jakob Ebrey