"The best place to hide anything is in plain sight." - Edgar Allan Poe
To paraphrase the American writer, that's pretty much what happened to Surtees at the 1976 Race of Champions at Brands Hatch. That year, in fact, the small British team founded by John Surtees himself - the only driver to have won a title in Formula 1 and MotoGP - showed up at the starting line with huge Durex lettering on the nose and sides of its TS19. This was made possible by an agreement with the London Rubber Company, of which Durex was one of the brands.
The presence of the condom manufacturer created a real rebellion among the broadcasters who were to broadcast the event, BBC in primis. In reality, the blackmail by the broadcasters was not due to ethical reasons (as communicated) but to a tug-of-war between the radio and television system-which wanted to maintain a monopoly on sponsors-and the racing teams, which wanted instead to exploit the bodywork to accommodate increasingly large brands and colors. Surtees was asked to remove the stickers on pain of not broadcasting the event. The stable refused, and Tyrrell, McLaren and the other teams also did not give in to pressure from state television. The BBC turned off the cameras and left the racetrack: the race was therefore run without media coverage.
Paradoxically, the lack of a chronicle generated further curiosity about the event, and Durex gained unhoped-for publicity, so much so that that event is still remembered today.
For the record, Surtees also won second place with Alan Jones behind James Hunt's Mclaren and after leading the race for a long time. The partnership between team and sponsor continued throughout 1976 but with more modest results. Surtees reached tenth place overall in the constructors' standings with 7 total points won.
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