Tony Brooks: Formula 1’s last surviving race winner of the 1950s

Tony Brooks

Tony Brooks contested 38 F1 World Championship races between 1956 and 1961

The formation of the System 1 World Championship in 1950 introduced with it a producing line of charismatic whisk winners who came to encapsulate an technology of gruelling, unhealthy and pioneering racing.

Juan Manuel Fangio, Alberto Ascari, Stirling Moss, Jack Brabham, Nino Farina, Mike Hawthorn and Jose Froilan Gonzalez – legendary names all – had been amongst the sequence’ earliest whisk winners.

Now, sadly, fair appropriate indisputably one of their elite band stays.

The dying of Moss at the age of 90 final month technique fellow Briton Tony Brooks is the final surviving F1 whisk winner from the game’s tumultuous first decade.

Whereas Brooks, now 88, stands alongside Moss as indisputably the perfect likely British drivers by no technique to procure the title, his achievements in the game hang consistently comfortably been eclipsed by his compatriot.

Now no longer that Brooks, who quit motorsport at the age of 29, would hang lost too unprecedented sleep about that. The stats – now no longer lost on him – stand testament to his ability.

Of the 75 System 1 grands prix (with the exception of the Indy 500) held in the 1950s, 49 of them – 65% – had been obtained by fair appropriate three men.

5-time world champion Fangio obtained 24, two-time champion Ascari bagged 13, and Moss claimed 12 (four extra would observe in the 1960s).

Fourth on the checklist with six wins? Tony Brooks.

Brooks’ tally of broad prix victories may maybe also fair now no longer seem a formidable quantity by at the present time’s standards – now no longer since Michael Schumacher so emphatically rewrote the story books, and with 20-whisk seasons and bulletproof reliability now the norm – nonetheless in the 1950s it was a first-rate return certainly.

Between 1956 and 1959, Brooks obtained 46% of the races he accomplished. A identical return for a driver in the 21st century would bring loads of world titles.

The 1959 French Tall Prix at Reims delivered indisputably one of Brooks’ most spectacular victories, the Briton struggling with searing heat and a melting observe in his Ferrari to advance home nearly half of a minute earlier than crew-mate Phil Hill

The ‘Racing Dentist’ hits the observe

As a young man, Brooks seemed set to have a study in his father’s footsteps by becoming a dental surgeon, nonetheless he would in a roundabout draw eschew his family trade after being drawn to motor racing, initiating in 1952 in membership occasions at the wheel of his mother’s Healey Silverstone and progressing from there.

By October 1955, Brooks – mild a dentistry student at Manchester University – was handed the unlikely replacement of making his System 1 debut at that season’s non-championship whisk in Syracuse, Sicily.

Utilizing for the cash-strapped Connaught crew, Brooks sprung an almighty surprise by coming home comfortably obvious of the factory Maseratis of World Championship regulars Luigi Musso and Luigi Villoresi. It was the principle world broad prix procure by a British automobile for the rationale that 1924 San Sebastian whisk, and set Brooks no longer off beam for a extra sustained tilt at the most life like level of motorsport.

His first advertising and marketing campaign, at the wheel of a BRM in 1956, was a short one – fair appropriate two races in complete. Nonetheless it was an training.

After failing to snatch the originate at that season’s Monaco Tall Prix, his only other look – on home soil at Silverstone – ended when his throttle stuck birth and he was flung from his automobile, sustaining a damaged jaw.

Talking to Motorsport journal in 2003, Brooks described that year’s BRM as “lethal… should you tried to float, it would fair appropriate fly off the avenue”.

Of his Silverstone crash, he added drily: “Being that automobile, it fair appropriate went entirely uncontrolled, spun into the financial institution, somersaulted and threw me out.

“Within the extinguish it landed the other draw up on the observe as soon as more, and set itself on fireplace – the single aspect it may maybe maybe well also moderately assemble.”

The Ferrari of Brooks (4) leads Masten Gregory’s Cooper en path to victory at the 1959 German Tall Prix at the Avus circuit

Mercifully, a transfer to Vanwall for 1957 was to assert a substantial step forward, turning in a maiden World Championship podium first commute at Monaco, sooner than he claimed his first real F1 procure at the British Tall Prix, albeit in a shared effort with fellow Briton Moss. It was moreover the principle time a British crew had obtained a World Championship whisk – and on home soil apart from.

Shared wins are rare issues in F1 terms – this was only the third and final time in would ever happen – nonetheless it absolutely was a welcome one for both men and no source of remorse that the glory and points had been shared.

For Brooks – replaced by Moss after 26 laps after his possess automobile hit grief – it was a blessing in conceal. He was racing on despite mild nursing loads of accidents – amongst them “a gap in my thigh as enormous as a tennis ball” – after a enormous accident at the 24 Hours of Le Mans fair appropriate weeks earlier.

“We determined to pull in unhappy Tony which ability that of he was mild plagued by a shunt at Le Mans and was now no longer in fair shape at all. He was out no longer off beam and he saw that I had retired and was in actual fact relieved to give his automobile to me,” Moss would yelp in an interview years later.

“Sharing it with Tony Brooks, who was such an unparalleled driver anyway, indisputably did no longer hang anything faraway from it.”

Brooks and Moss portion the victory at the end of the 1957 British Tall Prix

The next two years would glimpse Brooks’ profession top – turning in 5 wins and two world title challenges that may maybe so with out problems hang gone in his favour had the playing cards fallen otherwise.

Hawthorn obtained fair appropriate one whisk on his advance to the title in 1958; Brooks obtained three. Nevertheless an absence of reliability at other occasions intended he may maybe also only end third in the standings (moreover behind Moss and earlier than Roy Salvadori and Peter Collins, as British drivers filled the tip 5 locations).

He went one better after transferring to Ferrari in 1959, winning twice – in France and on F1’s sole commute at Avus for the German Tall Prix – on his advance to ending second in the championship, four points behind Australia’s Brabham.

Yet in desire to this being the catalyst for better issues, Brooks was already interested by existence past System 1, the hazards being all too obvious. His crashes at Silverstone in 1956 and Le Mans in 1957 weighed carefully, and he was definite by no technique to enable himself to be at the mercy of doubtlessly unsafe equipment.

The destiny of loads of of his mates moreover fuelled his desire to web out while he may maybe also.

Within the house of superb about a short months in 1958, Brooks skilled the loss of two compatriots in racing accidents – Peter Collins at August’s German Tall Prix and Stuart Lewis-Evans at the Moroccan Tall Prix in October. Italian driver Musso – famously overwhelmed by Brooks at Syracuse three years earlier – was moreover killed in a crash at that year’s French Tall Prix.

Then, in January 1959, new world champion Hawthorn was killed in a avenue accident three months after retiring.

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Archive: Meet F1’s racing dentist

“It was a extremely, very unhealthy sport,” Brooks instructed BBC South This day in 2012. “There had been three to four top drivers being killed every year on sensible by draw of the fifties, and I’d had a sexy fair innings.

“Clearly I’d worship to hang the place ‘world champion’ nonetheless I assemble now no longer hang any immense regrets about it. There was only Fangio, Ascari and Moss who obtained extra grands prix than I did in the 1950s.”

In spite of toying with retirement at the end of 1959, Brooks raced on into the 1960s – nonetheless his second at the though-provoking end of System 1 was over. He may maybe be out of the game sooner than his 30th birthday.

Two extra seasons delivered fair appropriate a handful of points and 10th and 11th blueprint in the standings, despite the undeniable truth that he was now no longer now no longer as much as ready to bow out in a becoming manner – claiming a podium end in his final whisk at the 1961 United States Tall Prix.

Modest and unassuming, Brooks’ departure from F1 was complete. He as a exchange diverted his consideration to his family and working a successful automobile dealership in Surrey, and by no technique raced as soon as more.

Brooks retired from F1 in 1961. He’s pictured right here (third from left) in July of that year alongside fellow F1 drivers Bruce McLaren, Stirling Moss, Graham Hill, Jo Bonnier and Wolfgang von Journeys. The toddler in the automobile is 1996 F1 world champion Damon Hill

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