F1 flashback: Surtees claims first grand prix victory

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Today marks fifty years since John Surtees claimed his first victory in Formula One, sparking the beginning of a glittering career in the sport that would see him win the world championship just one year later.

Surtees is the only person to have won a world title on two and four wheels, having become grand prix motorcycle champion on a 500CC bike in 1956, 1958, 1959 and 1960 before turning to Formula One.

Surtees took to F1 like a duck to water, coming second in his second race and securing pole position for just his third grand prix, but it wasn’t until 1963 that he eventually stood on top of the podium for the first time.

Until 1976, the German Grand Prix was held on the mammoth 14-mile Nürburgring circuit which was eventually deemed to be unsafe following an accident that nearly claimed Niki Lauda’s life.

For Surtees though, the circuit was very fruitful indeed in 1963 as he pulled away from the rest of the field alongside compatriot Jim Clark. Their race-long battle eventually came to an unfortunate end for Clark after he suffered an engine problem which saw him lose one of his eight cylinders, allowing Surtees to pass in his Ferrari and pull away to win by over one minute.

The race also saw a strong showing from the American drivers in the field, with Richie Ginther and Jim Hall both finishing in the points whilst Dan Gurney retired in a race that saw just ten drivers finish.

Surtees won his only Formula One world title in 1964 before retiring in 1972. He is widely recognized as being a legend of motorsport thanks to his remarkable feat of winning titles on two and four wheels and there are calls for him to be given a knighthood by The Queen. Regardless of his title though, Surtees will always remain a firm favorite in the F1 paddock and a motoring legend.

NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.