The pain, he assured me each time we met, was further masked by time, but my fear over discussing Henry and the superb work John and his team, led by daughter Leonora, undertook to help those with brain injuries, was allayed by his iron will and selflessness. ‘Please ask me anything you want. If it upsets me, it’s my problem not yours.’
I adored getting to know him better over the course of a decade and it was impossible to tire of yet another exciting recollection of his time at the top of his game. His frank accounts of his early life and the relationships with the key players who shaped his destiny – Count Domenico Agusta, Enzo Ferrari, Soichiro Honda, among others – were compelling. Unfurling the rich tapestry in the recesses of his razor-sharp mind and memory banks was deeply rewarding, helped by his insistence, often to the angst of producers/directors in my ear, on recalling minute and mesmerising detail.
I will always fondly recall his five visits to Autosport International, numerous doorstepped and/or pre-planned conversations at Goodwood, where his four-wheel career began with a test for Aston Martin and a maiden race for Ken Tyrrell in Formula Junior, helping to launch his magnificent, award-winning book, John Surtees – My Incredible Life on Two and Four Wheels, at London’s Royal Automobile Club headquarters, compèring the past five sell-out HSF karting, cocktail party and auction events at Brooklands and, last summer, an intoxicating day at his home, making a film about his Can-Am exploits 50 years earlier in a thunderous Lola T70 Spyder.