Surtees History


 John Surtees came tantalizingly close to success as a grand prix constructor, with a series of neat - if not always competitive - cars through the 1970s. He had almost too many credentials: the only man to win world championships on motorcycles and in cars and a valued development driver perhaps being the two most important. He believed in small, tight knit teams, and one of the problems running through the story of team Surtees was his insistence on his own involvement in every aspect, when sometimes he should have delegated.

 Team Surtees came into existence to run his sports car racing Lola T 70 in 1966, very successfully in that he won the a Can Am championship. The following years were devoted to making the GP Hondas competitive, and then came a spell with BRM. During 1969 he reactivated Team Surtees, becoming a constructor and building Formula 5000 car to a design by Len Terry, under the designation TS5. Later F5000 cars were the TS8 and TS11, both successful and, incidentally, driven by another great motor cycle champion, mike Hailwood.

 Out of the TS5 came the TS7 Grand Prix car, to make its debut in the 1970 British GP. Surtees drove it, scoring his first points in his own car in the Canadian GP that year. He also won the non-Championship Oulton Park Gold Cup race.

 For John Surtees, last full season as a driver the team had the TS9, another neat well built Cosworth engined car, which, however, was never a front runner. The TS14 was a less attractive car, in the side radiator idiom which was well suited to the generation of cars that came as new "deformable structure" hulls were required as a safety measure. Hailwood and Pace work hard to get results with this car, the Brazilian achieving a third and a fourth.

 A succession of first rate drivers served spells with the team - Pace, Bell, Watson, Jones - but funds were increasingly thin, and that told. The TS16 was not a convincing car, but with the TS19 in 1976 there was a return to the honest good looks of the early Surtees, and the car was reasonably competitive, too; tenth in the constructors championship with seven points was much better then the zero score of 1975

 The TS 19 had to serve on through 1977, still garnering points through reliability rather than scintillating challenges, and was brought out again to back up the TS20 to score the last championship points for Team Surtees, in the Austrian Grand Prix.


A ground Effects car, T21, was developed for the 1979, but sponsorship fell through as the season was about to open, and that helped to persuade a disillusioned John Surtees to give up his Grand Prix effort.

 Surtees TS7

 John Surtees' first Grand Prix car was a neat little machine, built to a high standard and competitive through its brief career - Surtees' victory in the Oulton Park Gold Cup race in 1970 was achieved against top-flight opposition. Overall, the TS7 was of three-quarter monocoque construction, with DFV employed as a load-bearing member, its most distinctive feature was a delta-plan nose, very slim and with the radiator mounted in a near horizontal position. Like the Surtees cars that followed it in the early 1970s, it was fast in a straight line and had good handling qualities. The detail faults that let it down in Grand Prix often stemmed from the engine, for as a newcomer Surtees rated no priority in DFV overhauls and repairs. Nevertheless, Surtees scored with a TS7 in the Canadian GP, while Derek Bell placed the second TS7 sixth in the US Grand prix.

 Surtees TS9

 When this car appeared it was outwardly a refined TS7, and was only slightly smaller and lighter, but by the late summer of 1971 the relationship was less obvious as it was revised to have prominent side radiators and a full width nose. Despite problems with this new layout it was carried through to 1973. The car was a potential race winner in both seasons - although Mike Hailwood was "only" fourth in the 1971 Italian GP, he was a mere 0.18 seconds behind the winner in a blanket finish. In 1972 Hailwood was second in the same race - his and the car's best placing in a championship event.

 Surtees TS19

 This car marked a real effort to restore Team Surtees to the forefront, and coincidentally marked a return to the simple elegance of line that had characterized Surtees early cars. Designed by Surtees and Ken Sears, it was a small, light car with a low center of gravity (hence lines reminiscent of the Brabham BT44), practicable for a small under finance team. The TS19s were invariably well turned out and in the hands of Alan Jones (1976) and Vittorio Brambilla (1977) scored some points. Nose and body work were revised for 1`977, and the cars then had to be brought out again, unchanged, in 1978, when they were no longer