Farewell, from one legend to another. Fast Freddie Spencer shares a memory of when he found inspiration from the late John Surtees. —Ed.
In 1983 at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, late in the Friday afternoon practice session, I was struggling. I couldn’t get within a second of Kenny and I was pushing my Honda NS 500 V3 to its limit and beyond. With just three races left in the championship and my points lead trimmed to just five, I knew each lap of every session was critical.
As Erv [Kanemoto] and the crew were putting a fresh set of tires on for my last run of the day I was sitting alone with my head down, contemplating my predicament in the corner of my garage, when I felt two hands touch my shoulders. I still can feel the reassurance and firmness; it brought me out of my deep-in-thought mindset. When I looked up the voice said: “Do you know who I am?”
I said, “of course I do Mr. Surtees!”
He said, “call me John…”
He said: “I know you’re riding beyond your bike’s capabilities, but keep doing it because you can, and it’s going to be ok.”
He gave my shoulders a reassuring squeeze then winked and smiled and walked out of my garage.
I felt better, I went out and qualified second, then finished second in the race. [Then FF went on to win his first 500 championship, beating Roberts by two points in one of the greatest finales in racing history —Ed.].
John knew exactly what to say, and his reassurance gave me the support and encouragement I needed.
John was a good friend and I will miss seeing him tremendously! His accomplishments have been an inspiration for many and for me. His winning the world titles in both the two premier championships of MotoGP and F1 sets him apart from all others!
Rest in Peace Mr. John Surtees.
When we reached out to Freddie for a comment on the passing of John Surtees, we had no idea FF’s autobiography is almost out, but it is and will be available shortly on Amazon.