Surtees won the 500cc motorcycle world championship in 1956, 1958, 1959 and 1960 with the MV Agusta factory team, for whom he scored 22 wins at the top level before switching to cars, making his debut for Lotus and winning the Formula One title for Ferrari in 1964, which included a remarkable win at the Nürburgring and one at Monza.
It was an achievement made all the more impressive given the level of competition he faced, beating Graham Hill and Jim Clark into second and third places. During the 12 years he raced in F1 he won six races from 111 starts. He also took a third place for Ferrari at Le Mans in 1964.
In 1966, he also won the CanAm Championship in a Team Surtees Lola, again notable for the level of competition in a field that included Bruce McLaren, Dan Gurney and Phil Hill.
During his time on bikes he won the Isle of Man Senior TT four times, becoming the first man to win it three times in succession between 1958 and 1960.