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John Surtees buys Buckmore Park, Chatham, where Formula 1 champions Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button raced as boys

By Chris Price

Motorsport legend John Surtees has bought Buckmore Park karting circuit for an undisclosed sum, reinforcing the Kent track’s link with Formula 1.

The Edenbridge-based businessman, who won the F1 championship in 1964, has taken control of the two companies based at the course where champions Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button learned their trade.

Mr Surtees, 81, who is the only man to win world championships on both motorcycles and cars, was already the landowner at the circuit and also has the freehold on another 90 acres of land next to the site.

John Surtees at the Henry Surtees Challenge at Buckmore Park in October
John Surtees at the Henry Surtees Challenge at Buckmore Park in October

John Surtees Limited, the ex-F1 champion’s trading arm, has acquired Buckmore Park Karting Limited and Buckmore Park Kart Club Limited, run by former owner Bill Sisley. They will continue to operate under the same names at the Chatham track.

Mr Sisley, the circuit’s managing director and an industry veteran of 42 years, will continue as a consultant for the companies.

Chief operating officer Chris Pullman will become joint managing director with Mike Griffiths, who “will take responsibilities for future developments” with Mr Surtees, according to a statement on the racing legend’s website.

Mr Surtees said: “It has been a long journey. I first got involved shortly after my son was taken there and said to me ‘that is what I want to do’ when he was seven and a half.

Much of the land around Buckmore Park is owned by John Surtees
Much of the land around Buckmore Park is owned by John Surtees

“I was able to secure it for the public when I became the landowner and I want to do more things to get us helping with education programmes.

“I would like Buckmore to become a feeder for youngsters into careers, working with various colleges.”

Kent Business first reported in 2013 that the track was planning an expansion, possibly funded by Mr Surtees, in the near future, a move which the racing hero said he hoped he could make an announcement on later this year.

Mr Sisley, 61, has run the park for more than 40 years, first on behalf of the Scouts before and then formally from 1985.

Karting at Buckmore Park
Karting at Buckmore Park

He said: “What John wants to do is good for the community because he wants to create education and jobs.

“It’s the next step. I have done all I can achieve and been successful. John has more financial power than I.

“We have been working hand-in-hand with John for years as he is already our landlord. This was just formalising that arrangement.

“It’s a positive move for everyone.”


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