Circumstance robbed Stirling Moss of the
opportunities to match Mario Andretti’s list
of achievements, but the evidence
suggests that he, too, could have excelled
in pretty much any type of racecar.
We all know John Surtees was a motorcycle
and car World Champion, but how many others
have proven adept at each? The list is quite
long. Wayne gardner, Jean Behra, Johnny
Cecotto, gregg Hansford and Stuart graham
were all bike stars who went on to shine on
four wheels, while fatal accidents robbed us of
the chance to see Bill Ivy and gary Hocking
convert their talents in a similar manner.
one of motorcycle racing’s all-time greats,
four-time 500cc World Champion Eddie
Lawson, switched to cars and finished fourth
in the 1994 Indy Lights Series, before scoring
a couple of top-six finishes in IndyCar in ’ 96.
Bernd Rosemeyer (BELo W) and Piero Taruffi
made their start on bikes, while Tazio
nuvolari even won the 350cc European
Championship before switching to cars.
The closest to emulating the magnitude
of Surtees’ achievements, though, are Joe
Leonard and Mike Hailwood. Leonard was a
three-time AMA bike champion in the mid-’50s,
before switching to cars. In ’ 68 he took pole for
the Indy 500 in the Lotus 56 turbine car and,
with the Vel’s Parnelli Jones team, he won the
Indy car championship in ’ 71 and ’ 72.
Hailwood (ABoVE, pursued by one of his
greatest rivals, giacomo Agostini – another
who converted to four wheels) is possibly bike
racing’s greatest of all time, with nine World
Championships to his name, including four
500cc titles. He tried F1 in the early ’60s, but
once his full attention was on racecars, his skills
were clear to see. He finished on the podium in
the 1969 Le Mans 24 Hours and took eighth in
the ’ 72 F1 World Championship for the Surtees
team – the same year he won the European
F2 title! After 11 years away from bikes, he
returned in 1978 to win the Isle of Man TT.
A road accident in ’ 81 robbed racing of one
of its most gifted, versatile exponents ever.
TWO BECOMES FOUR