Today is the 80th birthday of Sir John Surtees (he's a knight to me), who was not only one of the world's greatest champions of motorsport in his youth, but has subsequently been a successful race car constructor, a powerful supporter of young talent, a constant font of wisdom and a tireless worker for charity.

Let's hope the whole automotive community rises today to congratulate this man who managed to cross what to others has proved an impenetrable barrier – to be world champion on both two wheels and four. It will never be done again.

Surtees was awarded an OBE some years ago, but has mysteriously not attained the knighthood awarded to some of his peers. For many of his admirers this glaring oversight constantly rankles, and makes them doubt the fairness of the system. Perhaps they're right: motorcycling may be deemed a shade too grubby to be honoured.

However, I suspect one key reason why Surtees has not been elevated is that he has been entirely unconcerned with, and not very good at, personal PR.

What is more, the scale of his achievements – like the fact for three years he won two motorcycle world championships at once (350cc and 500cc), with all the audacity and skill that must have entailed – have not truly been understood and appreciated by the mysterious group that decides who is honoured and how.

So as well as sending birthday greetings to John Surtees, hero of motorsport and much more than that, we who admire him have a loud and simple message for the gong-givers: it's not too late!