John Surtees: "I knew it as a pony track"

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John Surtees gave the Lola Mk4 F1 car its only win in the International 2000 Guineas race at Mallory on June 11 1962.

In a processional race, Surtees led home Jack Brabham and Graham Hill to take his own maiden F1 win. It was just one of many memories Surtees has of the venue: “I’d first visited Mallory with my father when it was still a pony track. He had a motorcycle and sidecar. In fact I think he set the highest speed for a motorcycle on a grass track he did over 100mph down the back straight with the Vincent.

“It’s always been quite a special little place. There was the old pony track, which was just a big oval, and then the road track tended to follow it. Whether it was F1 or an MV Agusta four-cylinder it’s not that big a circuit, so you have to work hard, but generally it was a good test, with the fast corners and getting through the hairpin and particularly getting out, because that controlled the speed down to the finish line. I went back there a couple of years ago to do a bike demonstration – we had to use the extra chicane to stop the speed down past the pits and I didn’t particularly like that. Other than that it’s one of those circuits which has wonderful spectator views; in a way it’s like the Indy circuit at Brands Hatch. When you’ve got a big crowd at Mallory it’s all very much part of the event and we certainly enjoyed very good crowds when I was there.

“In 1962 we started the season with the four-cylinder Climax and then we switched to the eight. I think the first race with that car was at Goodwood, where I had a big dice with Stirling for the lap record – we’d both had a pitstop – and of course where he had his shunt. As I was off to Ferrari I knew that Mallory was one of my last drives in England until the grand prix the following year. Victory was a good finishing note, and I think it was the most prize money we won all year, so that was doubly nice!” A V D B