Freddie Spencer: Rest in Peace Mr. Surtees

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By Freddie Spencer

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 …read more

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