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Written by Peter Johnston   
Monday, 20 July 2009 21:42

Henry and John Surtees

Although I love motorsport and have done so for as long as I can remember, you do have periodic reminders that it is a dangerous sport. Sadly, yesterday was one of those days as Henry Surtees died after a freak accident during a race at Brands Hatch in the F2 championship.

Henry was just 18 years old and following in his father's footsteps in motorsport. His dad, John Surtees, holds a unique record as the only man to have been world champion on both two wheels and four wheels having won both the Grand Prix motorcycle championship and Formula One championship. Small wonder that he would look on with pride at his son's achievements. I can't imagine the mixture of emotions he must be feeling today. [There's more...]

Life is risky. As much as parents might wish to mollycoddle their children, at some point we acknowledge that they have to take on those risks themselves. John Surtees was racing at a time when the risks were far, far higher and when deaths in motorsport were a regular occurence. Thankfully motorsport is a lot safer than it was, but it still has its risks, as do just about every other sport I think about. I am sure John Surtees was very aware of the risks that his son faced, and he supported Henry in his endeavours on the track, perhaps aware that in a split second, perhaps with the tragic bounce of a detached and untethered wheel, it could all be over.

Watching my own children grow up I am aware of this balance between trying to protect your children and trying to help them grow by encouraging them to find ways in which to excel. I feel terribly for John tonight. Parenthood can be a devastatingly painful responsibility.

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