Edenbridge in Kent, came to a standstill on Monday when, undeterred by the weather, thousands of spectators lined the streets to watch motor sport legend, John Surtees OBE, ex Formula Renault and British Formula Ford Champion Scott Malvern and ex Formula 3 British Champion and A1 Grand Prix racer Robbie Kerr, roar through the streets of the town in Team Surtees race cars.
The special event in John’s home town helped commemorate the 50th anniversary of his Formula 1 World Championship title, as well as his 80th birthday.
The parade of Surtees rarely seen F1 race cars and bikes ran twice through Edenbridge High Street, before returning to the site that was the Surtees team factory and business base for the past 56 years.
Surtees led the parade in the Ferrari 158 which he won the 1964 Formula One Driver's World Championship driving kindly loaned by George Barber of Birmingham, Alabama, USA and was followed by a Team Surtees Formula One cars from the Seventies, and a procession of over 200 classic bikes and cars all drawn to Edenbridge by the town’s festivities.
'Papa Smurf’ even made an appearance in tribute to the late John Button, aka 'Papa Smurf’, and, at the request of the Button family, was raising funds for the Henry Surtees Foundation.
The event was organized by the Eden Valley Chamber of Commerce, as part of Edenbridge Fun Day and featured non-stop entertainment throughout the day including live bands, pram races, dog show, trade stalls, and a classic car and motorcycle display. The event also raised awareness and funds for the Kent Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance and The Henry Surtees Foundation, a foundation established by John Surtees following the tragic death of his son Henry while competing in Formula 2 race in 2009 aged just 18.
Speaking at the parade John Surtees said: "It’s fantastic to have the High Street closed on a busy Bank Holiday weekend so that we could give all the visitors the sight and sound of Formula One and times gone by. It’s not often that people get to hear and watch Formula 1 cars up close, and judging by the response of the crowds who cheered us through, they must’ve enjoyed it as much as I did."
Scott Malvern said "it was an absolute honour to drive the TS7, the first Formula 1 car built by Team Surtees here in Edenbridge. I can’t thank John Surtees enough for such an amazing opportunity; truly a day to remember".
Peter Kingham, Chairman of The Eden Valley Chamber of Commerce said: "it has always been our intention to make this an annual event centering on the town's racing construction heritage and to help put Edenbridge on the map. The rain certainly did not dampen the spirits of the event; the streets were packed with visitors, many of which had made a long journey specifically to watch the Team Surtees parade. Personally, I would like to thank John Surtees for all the help and effort he, his staff and friends put into making it such a great day and to the Ferrari Owners Club for their support."
The Team Surtees and John Surtees related vehicles that took part in the parade were displayed throughout the day outside the Bradford shop, Station Road, where they were built and designed by predominantly local residents, the display included:
Ferrari 158 - The actual car that John Surtees won his 1964 Formula One Driver's World Championship racing title driving.
The TS7 - The first Formula 1 car built by Team Surtees at its Edenbridge base, which John Surtees raced at the British Grand Prix in Brands Hatch in 1970. The vehicle was driven in the parade by Formula Renault Champion, and British Formula Ford & Eurocup Champion Scott Malvern.
The TS14 Formula 1 car - The first car to be introduced to the new safety regulations in 1972 and was driven by Mike Hailwood and Carlos Pace setting lap records in the German and Austrian Grand Prix. The vehicle was driven in the parade by past Formula 3 British Champion and A1 Grand Prix runner-up Robbie Kerr.
The TS15 2-litre Formula 2 car built in 1973 which finished 2nd in that Championship, this car is the prototype that won the prestigious Interlagos race in Brazil driven by Carlos Pace.
A 1960 MV Agusta four-cylinder GP motorcycle – John Surtees won seven motorcycle championships riding for MV Agusta and 6 Isle of Man TT’s.
1957 BMW 507 this is possibly BMW’s most prestigious car and was produced in limited numbers. John Surtees acquired this part as a prize on winning his first motorcycle World Championship with MV Agusta.
500cc 1949 Vincent Grey Flash motorcycle built by John in 1979 using a large number of parts from the original machine that he built in 1950 whilst working as an apprentice at the Vincent Company. John won his first ever race on a Grey Flash at Aberdare Park in Wales that he had built whilst working as an apprentice at the Vincent Company. It was the first of many wins before he transferred to a Norton to compete in International events.
350cc Works Norton this is one of the last works machines built by the original Norton company in the early Sixties and featured an ultra-short-stroke engine of 86mm x 60mm and outside flywheel.
Maybe now the powers-that-be can round off John's 40th anniversary year with a much deserved Knighthood.
Picture Credits: Top picture David Woolard, main pictures Jonathan Sharpe.