S4012 Surtees TS19 No.18 Monaco GP 1978 – Rupert Keegan
John Surtees has started his own racing team after his racing career on two and four wheels. In total he was engaged nine seasons in the formula 1. But definitely he was more successful as a driver than with his racing team.
A second place of Mike Hailwood in Monza in 1972 (10th blog entry) had been the best result. In 1978 Surtees utilized the model TS19. This car was already used in the seasons 1976 and 1977. That’s why the car was only a further development. And on top already an outdated version. Because at that time there were already racing the wing-cars in 1978. And therefore Surtees had nothing to counter. As a result there was already used the first TS20 for the Monaco GP. But this car was also the last f1-car of Sir John. He was not only standing with his back to the wall in a financial regard, but he also lost the passion for the formula 1. Besides Vittorio Brambilla and Rupert Keegan there were Bebbe Gabbiani and René Arnoux (both starting with the model TS20) driving for Surtees in 1978. The most successful driver of them was the former GP winner Brambilla. His season ended at the Italian GP. At the accident right after the race start, where Ronnie Peterson lost his life, the “Gorilla of Monza” got serious head injuries. Also Keegan was not able to finish the season. He had to stop after an accident in Zandvoort (broken wrist). But it weren’t the drivers that made the headlines at Surtees in those times. First of all it was the main sponsor “Durex” that got all attention. The condom manufacturer joined in 1976 and set tongues wagging especially in the ultra-conservative England, the home of Surtees. Surtees himself can only laugh when the topic occurs:” Durex was a sponsor not searching for the spotlight. It was a very discrete business.” Especially the BBC had another opinion at that time. The allegedly so clean formula 1 has fallen into disrepute because of Durex according to the BBC. There is now the question what the BBC would have done at that time, if they had known that around 30 years later there is made advertising for Viagra in the NASCAR racing?