Racing legend to drive at celebration event in Huntingdon
THE only man ever to have won both the World Motorcycling Championship and the Formula 1 Championship will be driving his old Lola racing car on the streets of Huntingdon next month. John Surtees, now in his 70s, won the 500cc World Championship in 1956,
THE only man ever to have won both the World Motorcycling Championship and the Formula 1 Championship will be driving his old Lola racing car on the streets of Huntingdon next month.
John Surtees, now in his 70s, won the 500cc World Championship in 1956, and between 1958 and 1960 he became the first man to win the Senior TT and the Isle of Man TT three years in succession.
In 1960 he switched to cars full time and was F1 Champion for Ferrari in 1964. The following year he was driving for the official works Lola team, driving the T70 car that he will pilot in the parade on Sunday, October 12, to mark the 50th anniversary of the St Peter's Road, Huntingdon-based sports car manufacturer.
"He is the most experienced driver of Lola cars that there has been. He has a real soft spot for them," said Lola's Sam Smith this week.
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"John Surtees is a true living legend of the race track. Racing a Formula One Lola Mk4 in 1963, Surtees finished on the podium in several Grands Prix, often beating the Lotus and Ferrari entries.
"However, it is the Lola T70 Can-Am car that he is most associated with, taking the inaugural championship in 1965. Surtees was also very much part of the Lola business, acting as an official agent for the company between 1965 and 1969. Surtees also raced F5000 and F2 machinery for Lola."
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Lola intends to have around a dozen cars in the parade from St Peter's Road, round the town's ring road to a paddock in the market square, where there will be a total of 20 models for the public to admire.
The route will be closed for about 10 minutes as the racers pass by between midday and 12.10pm. After the machines have been allowed to cool, the public will have access to them from 12.30 until 4pm.
The company, owned by former racing driver Martin Birrane, revealed three of the legendary drivers this week - Surtees, Anthony Reid and James Weaver.
Anthony Reid is best known in the UK for his Touring Car exploits with the Lola built MG. He raced to several victories with the car in 2003 and 2004.
The Scotsman was also part of the Lola-MG team at Le Mans in 2001 and 2002, where the famous green and grey Lola LMP675 car embarrassed some of the official works team with its pace.
Reid has also driven Lola Formula Nippon cars and was also a podium visitor in his first-ever Le Mans 24 Hours in 1990.
James Weaver is one of the great characters of modern sportscar racing, Mr Smith said. "Having come up the single-seater ladder in the early 1980s, Weaver shot to fame in the British Touring Car Series in 1988, winning the title in a BMW. In the 1990s Weaver was one of the first drivers to sample the Lola B98/10 (the first car to be built under Martin Birrane's leadership of the company)."
Racing the Lola-MG LMP675 car from 2002-2005, Weaver overcame the mighty Audi R8 sportscars to take several victories with the American Dyson Racing team. As well as sportscars, Weaver also drove Formula 3000 Lolas and also an Aston Martin-engined T70.
"In spite of the drivers, we like to think the cars will be the stars of the day," Mr Smith said. "They will look spectacular and sound fantastic."
One former Lola driver not expected in the parade is legendary actor Paul Newman. Now in his 80s, he is understood to be very ill.