CONSTRUCTORS: SURTEES RACING ORGANISATION
Name: Surtees Racing Organisation
John Surtees set up his own team to race CanAm sportscars in America in 1966. That same year he quit Ferrari after a clash with the management and raced Cooper-Maseratis. His CanAm operation was a great success and he took the title in his Lola T70. The following year he finished third behind the all-conquering McLarens.
In 1967 and 1968 Surtees raced for Honda in Formula 1 which took up all his time but for 1969 he moved to BRM. Team Surtees switched from being an entrant to becoming a constructor that year, Surtees taking over the LEDA Formula 5000 project, devised as a customer car and designed in Poole, Dorset, by Len Terry. This was renamed the Surtees TS5. Surtees had been involved in four previous motorcycle-building projects, hence the designation.
The cars were raced in Britain and America with David Hobbs finishing runner-up in the United States, despite only doing half the series with wins at Donnybrooke, St. Jovite, Thompson and Sebring. Italian Andrea de Adamich also raced the cars in America and Europe, where Trevor Taylor also drove one of the Chevrolet-engined devices.
Surtees relocated in mid-1969 from premises in Slough to a new base at Edenbridge in Kent where Team Surtees ran the cars and TS Research & Development designed and built them. For the 1970 season the F5000 program continued with Hobbs in America. He finished third in the series with wins at Donnybrooke and Lime Rock, while John Gunn ran another car and a third was raced in South African F1 races by Jack Pretorious. The main thrust of the year, however, was the construction of the first Surtees F1 car. The car could not be prepared in time for the start of the F1 season and so Surtees acquired a McLaren M7A. He finished sixth in Holland but then failed to make an impression until the Surtees-Cosworth TS7 was ready at the British GP at Brands Hatch. He retired from the race but finished ninth in Germany. There was another retirement in Austria but at the non-championship Oulton Park Gold Cup in August Surtees won on aggregate, beating a decent field of F1 and F5000 cars including his own Formula 5000 team, which was running Alan Rollinson in a TS5A.
The rest of the 1970 season saw Surtees developing the car and in Canada he finished fifth to score the team's first points. Derek Bell ran a second car at the United States GP and finished sixth first time out.
The TS7s saw further service in 1971 with three cars appearing at the South African GP for Surtees (who had landed backing from Oxo Brooke Bond and Rob Walker), Rolf Stommelen (who had brought sponsorship from Eifelland caravans and Auto Motor und Sport magazine) and South African resident Brian Redman.
The TS9 - designed by Surtees, Peter Connew and Shahab Ahmed - appeared at the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch a fortnight later and Surtees drove it to third place. Stommelen continued in one of the old TS7s and Rollinson appeared in one of the cars at the International Trophy. Surtees went on to pick up points in several races and won the Oulton Park Gold Cup again. From time to time the team fielded a third car for Gijs van Lennep, Derek Bell and, at the end of the year, for Mike Hailwood. He finished fourth at Monza. At the end of the year Surtees ran American Formula 5000 driver Sam Posey at the United States GP. Posey raced a Surtees TS8 in the US F5000 series, finishing runner-up that year while in Europe Hailwood was runner-up in the Rothmans-sponsored European F5000 series.
One TS9 F1 car was sent to South Africa to be raced by Team Gunston driver John Love who had a huge accident in the car when the throttle stuck open at Kyalami. The car split the barriers and was stopped with Love staring at a piece of crash barrier just inches from his face.
For the 1972 season Surtees ran works cars in F1 and F2. Customer TS11 cars were built for F5000 teams and Sam Posey finished runner-up in the US series, while van Lennep raced for Jacky Epstein's Speed International and won the European Championship.
The Formula 2 team was sponsored by Matchbox and the TS10 saw service in the hands of Surtees himself, Hailwood, Andrea de Adamich and Carlos Ruesch. Hailwood swept to the title with wins at Mantorp and the Salzburgring, while Surtees won at Imola and in Suzuka. On occasion the team ran other drivers, notably Carlos Pace and Jose Dolhem . Pace joined the team for the autumn F2 series in South America and both he and Hailwood won races at Interlagos.
In Formula 1 Surtees decided to stand down and entered de Adamich (who had backing from Ceramica Pagnossin), Hailwood and Tim Schenken (supported by Brooke Bond Oxo and Rob Walker) in TS9Bs. At the Italian GP Surtees did return at the wheel of the new TS14. The team finished fifth in the Constructors' Championship with Hailwood eighth in the Drivers' title.
Hailwood and Pace raced in F1 in 1973 with TS14As while de Adamich, Luis Bueno and Jochen Mass all made guest appearances. Hailwood was leading the Race of Champions when his suspension failed with four laps to go and as the season wore on he lost confidence in the car and Pace emerged with better results, finishing fourth in Germany and third in Austria. In F2 Mass and Hailwood raced Matchbox and Fina sponsored factory TS15s alongside various customers, notably James Hunt in a Hesketh car. When Hailwood was not available Bell, Dolhem, Willy Braillard and Torsten Palm stood in, Palm finishing third in the Kannonloppet race at Karlskoga. Mass finished the year runner-up in the European Championship.
Mass was hired to partner Pace in F1 for the 1974 season with the Surtees TS16 in Matchbox colors. The Brazilian finished fourth in Brazil but in the midseason moved to Brabham to replace Rikky von Opel and Surtees ended up running a string of different drivers including Finland's Leo Kinnunen, Dolhem, Bell, Jean-Pierre Jabouille, Dieter Quester and Helmut Koinigg. The Austrian driver finished tenth in Canada but was killed in a violent accident at Watkins Glen.
The 1975 season marked a low ebb for the team with John Watson struggling with the TS16 without results until he quit the team to join Penske after the death of Mark Donohue. The team was not seen again that year but things looked better in 1976 with the new TS19 - designed by Surtees and Ken Sears - for Alan Jones (with controversial Durex sponsorship) and Brett Lunger running in a Chesterfield-sponsored car. Jones finished second in the Race of Champions and in Belgium scored the team's first points since 1974, while Connie Andersson and Noritake Takahara also made guest appearances and Henri Pescarolo drove a customer car prepared by Team Norev. Divina Galica enjoyed some success with an older car in the British F1 series but failed to qualify for the British GP.
The same cars saw service in 1977 when the team signed up Vittorio Brambilla (with Beta sponsorship). The Durex-sponsorship continued but Alan Jones left and the second car was driven by Hans Binder, Larry Perkins and Vern Schuppan while Patrick Tambay, Tony Trimmer and Lamberto Leoni were also seen in the cars. Brambilla scored six points.
The team had backing from Beta, Durex and British Air Ferries for 1978 and the new TS20s were driven by Brambilla and Rupert Keegan but at the Dutch GP the Englishman crashed heavily and broke his wrist. He was replaced at the Italian GP by "Gimax" who failed to qualify. In the race Brambilla was involved in the multiple car accident at the start and suffered serious head injuries.
At the same time Surtees himself was having medical problems with his legs, the result of a violent crash in CanAm in the 1960s. For the final two races the team ran Rene Arnoux and Beppe Gabbiani, although the youngster failed to qualify for either race.
During the winter work began on the TS21 but Arnoux went off to join Renault Sport and Gabbiani's sponsorship did not materialize and in November Surtees announced that the team was pulling out of the World Championship. The TS21 was built and raced in British F1 races by Gordon Smiley. It was later destroyed by Ray Mallock.
Surtees went back to running his other businesses and enjoying family life, having married one of the nurses he met during his stay in hospital.