Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The team was formed by John Surtees, a three time 500cc motorcycle champion and the Formula One champion in 1964. Surtees formed the team in 1966 for the newly-formed CanAm series (a winged sportscar series), with John winning the championship as an owner/driver in its first year. He fielded an entry in another newly formed series in 1969, becoming part of Formula 5000, and his team constructed its own cars for the first time. His team was successful, winning 5 races, all in a row, during a 12 race season.
This inspired Surtees to expand to Formula One, and after having had a difficult season with BRM in '69, John decided to become an owner/driver again. Surtees ran the full 1970 season, but John was forced to run the first four races in an old McLaren because of a delay in the construction of his in-house F1 car. The new British Petroleum sponsored car earned its first (and only) points that year in the Canadian Grand Prix.
Surtees added a second full time car in 1971 for German sportscar ace Rolf Stommelen, and ran a third car for various drivers in a number of races. Three drivers, Surtees, Stommelen, and Mike Hailwood (himself a motorcycling champion) earned three points each for the marque that year.
After the 1971 season, Surtees retired from full-time competition, and the team ended up with three new full time drivers in 1972. Hailwood returned to Surtees for a full year, joining him were Australian Tim Schenken and Andrea De Adamich, the latter of whom brought sponsorship money to the team. "Mike the Bike" produced Surtees' first podium finish that year in the Italian Grand Prix finishing 2nd to Emerson Fittipaldi. All three drivers scored points for the team, and Surtees would finish 5th in the constructors' championship.
Schenken was replaced in 1973 by Brazilian Carlos Pace, and the team went down to two full-time cars after de Adamich left following the season opener. Pace finished 3rd in Austria and 4th in Germany, but it was the only points finishes the team had all season, as Hailwood was left scoreless. Hailwood departed for McLaren after the year, being replaced by Jochen Mass in 1974. It was a difficult year for Surtees, as Pace left the team in mid-season, and replacement Derek Bell struggled to qualify for races. A 4th place by Pace at his home track were the only points Surtees managed to get, and they failed to finish in the top 10 in the constructor's championship.
The team struggled to survive in 1975, and ran only a car for John Watson regularly. The season was a tremendous struggle for Watson and Surtees, as the team failed to score points. Desperate for money, Surtees landed a controversial sponsorship deal from Durex condoms in 1976. Australian Alan Jones drove the Durex car that year, a second car also ran for American Brett Lunger. Lunger was uncompetitive, but Jones ran effectively for the team, finishing in the points 3 times.
Unfortunately, Jones' success resulted in him leaving the team for the emerging Shadow team, and money problems forced Surtees to run one car regularly again in 1977, this time for pay-driver Vittoria Brambilla . Brambilla's season was minorly successful, also finishing in the points 3 times. Still, his occasional good finish did not prevent Surtees from further monetary troubles. In 1978, the team added a second car for another pay-driver, Briton Rupert Keegan, but the money problems continued. A lack of decent results caused further problems.
Unable to get sufficient money, the team left F1 after the 1978 season, despite having a car built for 1979. After racing the car in the British Aurora series (formerly F5000) briefly that year, Surtees Racing Organization was closed for good.
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