John Surtees remains the only man in the history of motorsport to win 350cc and 500cc motorcycle roadracing world championships, and the Formula 1 car racing world championship as well!
Valentino Rossi is the only man to have won motorcycle racing world championships in four classes – 125cc, 250cc, 500cc and MotoGP. Freddie Spencer is the only man to have won 250cc and 500cc world championships in the same year (in 1985). And yet, both their accomplishments are overshadowed by those of one John Surtees – the only man to have won motorcycle racing world championships as well as the F1 crown!
Born in the UK in 1934, John Surtees won his first 500cc world championship in 1956, riding an MV Agusta. In 1958, 1959 and 1960, Surtees won both the 350cc and the 500cc world championships (!!!) and also became the first man ever to win the Senior Isle of Man TT three years in succession.
In 1960, at 26 years of age, Surtees switched from motorcycles to cars, making his Formula 1 debut driving for Lotus in the Monaco Grand Prix in Monte Carlo. He moved to Ferrari in 1963, and won the F1 world championship in 1964.
Surtees retired from competition in 1972, and was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1996. Surely, one of the greatest motorcycle racers of all time! To read more about the man and the story of how he got into F1, go here