Freak accident at Brands is THIRD to hit venue
PUBLISHED: 17:54 22 July 2009 | UPDATED: 10:57 12 August 2010
MOTORSPORT fans and competitors at Brands Hatch have been rocked by the death of a racing legend s son - the THIRD tragedy linked to the venue within 16 months.
MOTORSPORT fans and competitors at Brands Hatch have been rocked by the death of a racing legend's son - the THIRD tragedy linked to the venue within 16 months.
Formula Two (F2) driver Henry Surtees - son of Bromley-born racing hero John Surtees - was killed in a freak accident at the West Kingsdown circuit as he raced at 120mph last Sunday.
Fans from across north Kent and south-east London watched in horror as a wheel from another driver's car hurtled towards Surtees, 18, before bouncing off his head.
It is less than a year after motorbike racer Craig Jones died on the British leg of the World Supersport Championship at the venue.
Just a few months earlier, ex-professional driver Richard Lloyd and former British Touring Car Championship race winner David Leslie died in the Farnborough air crash.
They were close friends of Brands Hatch boss Jonathon Palmer and were regularly spotted at the track. In total, five people on board were killed when their Cessna Citation smashed into a house shortly after leaving Biggin Hill Airport.
On Monday, leading the tributes to his son, 75-year-old John Surtees - the only man to win world championships on both four and two wheels - said: "Henry had followed his heart from the time he first sat in a kart.
"The world beckoned and he was thriving on the freedom to concentrate on his motorsport. Despite bad luck in his motorsport, he had shown himself to be one with the possibilities of reaching the very top.
"Most importantly he was a nice person and a loving son. He will be deeply missed."
Tragic Henry, who dreamed of emulating his dad's success, spoke to the Times just a fortnight before his death, saying: "It's everybody's dream. I would love to race a Formula One (F1) car.
Driving an F1 car is what I want to do, it's the essence of motorsport, the purest form of racing and where everyone wants to be."
But last Sunday he was killed when rival John Clarke crashed, sending a tyre bouncing across the track and on to his head, knocking out Surtees and causing him to smash into a barrier between Westfield and Sheene corner.
The previous day he had claimed his first ever podium finish in the series, placing third. Coincidentally, the fourth corner of the famous Kent circuit is named after Surtees senior for his exemplary service to the sport.
Henry Surtees, who had recently finished his A-levels, was airlifted to Royal London Hospital following the horrific smash but was later pronounced dead.
Former F1 driver Jonathan Palmer, chief executive of the company MotorSport Vision (MSV) which owns Brands Hatch and is the team Surtees raced for in the F2 series, said it had been the saddest time in his 35-year racing career.
His son Jolyon - who survived a life threatening quad bike accident two years previously - is also an F2 prospect and also drives for MSV.
The debris which struck Surtees narrowly missed his vehicle, of which Palmer said: "We all know life can be cruel and we read of young victims of tragedies every day, whether through accident, war or illness.
"But nothing can prepare someone for the loss of their own child and clearly John and Jane are absolutely distraught. We are all so desperately sorry."
A full investigation into the events on Sunday will be undertaken.