Meeting John Surtees

Having exchanged a few letters and e-mails over the past ten years with John relating to the Surtees TS9 that I have completed the monocoque for, it was with great pleasure I was able to meet him on July 1st this year.

This was at the 2014 Henry Surtees Foundation Team Karting Challenge, held at Mercedes Benz World (what a fabulous venue!). I learnt much about this local charity in memory of John’s son Henry, which supports a variety of organisations, the most prominent cause being that of the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance.

I had met John Surtees briefly to say hello at Goodwood’s Festival of Speed events a couple of times and on a recent such opportunity he kindly agreed to sign an oil painting of himself driving a Ferrari 312 in 1966, beautifully captured by artist Anthony Dobson of Collier and Dobson Ltd (Fordingbridge). Knowing Anthony well, I took my painting along and John was very pleased to discuss the merits of this car and its shortcomings which led to him leaving Ferrari early on in the season. He happily signed the painting and I was able to bring added value to his experience by showing him a selection of my 1/12 models, namely a Tyrrell 006, a McLaren M19C and the part-completed 1971 Surtees TS9 as well as the Honda RA300. Naturally, the engineer in him was brought to life and his kind and genuine enthusiasm shone out and inspired me even more. I look forward to completing the RA300 and the Surtees, but fear I will have to wait until more time becomes available in the next few years as the work commitments are fine tuned for those of us who are looking towards a well earned break at some point.

This fantastic experience, which began with understandable nervousness as Jason Jenner and Andrew Francis of The Signature Store made the meeting happen and carefully choreographed everything, also taking the pictures that appear on my Twitter account @mrof1models on July 1st 2014,… thanks guys. As soon as John became available, his gentle and generous spirited way, soon made me feel completely at ease and experience his genuine interest, a real gentleman. Later we saw him in action in the really lovely Ferrari 158 Ferrari of 1964 and no doubt there are photos and video of this on You-Tube, although I have my own personal images and memories too.

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