Tony Brooks in 1959
Posted 16 May 2001 - 14:00
One of the wins was at the Nurburgring where the performance was probably more outstanding than Fangios in 1957. The sad thing was Collins died in that race and its shadow took the shine off what Tony had done.
In 1959 Tony joined the Scuderia and he took Mike Hawthorn's place as the driver I followed (which then lasted until he retired in 61).
I always felt Tony should have won the championship that year and only bad luck during the year and a tap in the rear finally prevented him doing so.
I followed Tony to BRM in 61 and was very disappointed when he retired at the end of that year. Just to compound the CAS bad luck BRM won the championship in 62 - I believe he would have probably achieved the championship had he stayed in a far more relaxed fashion than it was actually won.
Going back to 1959 there is one point I particularly remember in that
firstly due to a strike Ferrari were unable to send cars to Aintree for the British GP (they ahd won there earlier in the year)
secondly I seem to remember the possibility of Black Jack jumping the start - I seem to recall it from the TV transmission at the time.
Has anyone else got recollections or opinions of this?
Posted 16 May 2001 - 14:09
Posted 16 May 2001 - 16:24
Posted 16 May 2001 - 18:52
Michael T. Lynch
Posted 16 May 2001 - 18:58
Posted 16 May 2001 - 19:32
Secondly, I don't think the '59 Ferrari would have been very effective at Aintree. And Aintree was certainly not a 'Brooks' sort of circuit, though he may have collected some points.
Thirdly, I'm a great admirer of Tony Brooks. Wonderfully polished, and very fast. Very, very fast on difficult circuits, which he seemed to relish. Very, very fast because he could safely go where most others couldn't. Nowadays, of course, 'difficult' has been translated into 'dangerous'. Brooks view of this is given in the May edition of MotorSport, where he admits to 'an all-consuming passion for the 'Ring, a gladiatorial arena where one mistake could be your last. Just to do well gave a unique sense of satisfaction.'
BUT, I never got a sense that he was a complete racer. He didn't seem prepared to 'fight' an unpredictable car, and champions sometimes have to do that. The 1959 Targa Florio is an example, when he looked very sideways at a Ferrari that team-mate Behra happily brought back to the pits after overturning it and wanting to continue racing.
I believe he was a driver who thought a racing car should have more power than the chassis could comfortably handle, and I seem to remember that he thought the 1.5 litre F1 cars underpowered. He never shone in 1961.
But man, what style. Used to leave you with the feeling, "What would happen if he really started to hurry?" But, of course, his lap times showed he really was hurrying. A 9.9 tenths man, if not 9.99, always with that trace of understeer. Has anyone seen him, or a picture of him, with opposite-lock correction?
I wish he would write he story...
Posted 16 May 2001 - 20:48
Posted 16 May 2001 - 20:48
Posted 16 May 2001 - 21:25
Posted 16 May 2001 - 21:56
I would like to add that Tony always seemed to me to be a man who liked to race, but didn't actually NEED to race. I think this sets him apart from many of his peers.
He was very much a precision driver; hence the lack of opposite lock and sliding around. Well, you have to be precise if you are a dentist!!!!
Without doubt 1959 should have been his year; the fact that it wasn't bears out my view that he really didn't want it THAT badly.
Posted 16 May 2001 - 22:18
another example of only going fast when the conditions are right?
Incidentally (if that's the right word), did he ever practice as a dentist?
Posted 17 May 2001 - 07:49
Posted 17 May 2001 - 19:38
The Scuderia Ferrari made an easy 1-2 in the non-championship Aintree 200 in April 1959 (Behra first, Brooks second).
Mc Laren finished third.
Moss, Brabham, Gregory,Salvadori (Cooper) and the two BRMs (Bonnier, Schell) retired...
Posted 17 May 2001 - 19:51
Just to compare he gives 5 lines to Brooks, 11 to Phil Hill, 20 to Froilan Gonzalez, 2 pages each to Peter Collins, Moss and Guy Moll and a bit less to Hawthorn.
Posted 17 May 2001 - 21:02
Incidentally (if that's the right word), did he ever practice as a dentist?
Having asked the question, I found a note in Autosport December 21 1956: "Tony Brooks has been appointed a house surgeon and will be kept busy until about May, when he may be able to relax more and take part in motor racing at home and abroad."
Posted 17 May 2001 - 23:01
But look at those retirees especially Messrs Brabham and Moss.
Posted 02 December 2004 - 03:03
I actually got Tony's autograph at the 2000 Coys Festival at Silverstone, and I mentioned something like "so why did you pit for a check-up at Sebring when you could have won the championship?" - something daft that a 17 year old born 24 years after the event and bred in the World Championship-is-all era would say - and his response was brief and to the point: "We lost it [the championship] long before then..."
Posted 02 December 2004 - 04:20
Surely it was lost in the drawing room?
A Ferrari with that V6 in the rear end (after the lessons of Argentina and Monaco...) should have wiped the boards in both '59 and '60.
Posted 02 December 2004 - 18:20
Brooks "lost" the WCD in 1959 for a variety reasons, but, in retrospect, it seems that he and the Scuderia were not exactly in synch. That he was in a position to actually win the WCD at Sebring is in no small way a reflection on the points systems rather then any ability of the Scuderia to field a "winner." Just my own observation.
Posted 03 December 2004 - 03:21
The filling station developed into a major motor agency, first with Fiat then with Ford. Tony was not shy about having his picture everywhere. The ad agency who prepared the display took a few liberties, Brooks was never Ferrari's official Number One in 1959, for example, enzo refused to nominate a Number One. It was this policy which led to ructions with Jean Behra. One of the few things with which I disagree is that he rates Behra and I do not.
If Aintree was not Tony's type of circuit, someone should have told him. He then would not have gone to the trouble of putting his Vanwall on the front row of the 1957 British GP, while he was recovering from injury. He would have not won the Formula Two section of the 1958 Aintree 200, beating the likes of Lewis-Evans, Shell, Hill (NG), Trintignat, Russell and McLaren. He need not to have bothered to have finished second overall in the 1959 Aintree 200.
It was not only a case that Ferrari missed the British GP in 1959, but tthat he Belgian race was cancelled and Tony was supreme at Spa. there is no way that he would not have had a podium position at Spa in 1959 had his car held together, and the Ferrari was a reliable beast. In the 1960 Belgian GP, Tony put his obsolete Cooper T51 second on the grid, beaten only by Brabham's T53 'Lowline'.
Had Tony had a Ferrari at Spa and Aintree, he would have been 1959 World Champion and Sir Jack would be 'only' twice a Champion, though that is enough to go to bed with. Tony is right, the Championship was not lost at Sebring.
What happened at Vanwall was Moss was Number One, and Tony respected that. When Stirling retired, Tony would drive through the field and win, as he demonstrated in 1958 when he won at Spa, the Nurburgring and Monza. It was part of sports culture at the time that the Number Two supported the Number One.
It was Brooks who won the 1957 Nurburging 1000 Kms for Aston Martin, Noel Cunningham-Reid merely gave solid support during his brief stint. Tnh Aston Martin DBR1 was a 3-litre car at a time when there was no upper limit to engine capacity.
Nobody, not even Stirling, could match Brooks at Spa and the Nurburgring.
Stirling has never quite admitted that to me, but he has gone out of his way to make me aware of how great a driver Brooks was.
Tony was essentially an amateur, he he was the last graduate to win a Grand Prix. In 1955 he signed for Aston Martin and thought all his birthdays had come at once when Aston Martin paid him a retainer of £50 (fifty pounds, no noughts missing) plus expenses.
Tony met Pina, a beautiful Italian who had played international hockey and who had a PhD. they married and Tony thought about raising a family, which he did. My 'godchildren' (a convenient translatiion have been much admired by Tony and Pina, as they jolly well deserve to be.
It was a funny thing, but every so often one would hear stories of this or that car being driven by somebody with consumate skills. The punch-line was always that the driver was Tony Brooks. these stories went on for years and always involved Brooks, never Moss. As one who has been a passenger to both, I think I know why.
At the first Goodwood Revival Meeting, I was chatting to Tony when the Marilyn Monroe look-alike came into the Drivers' Centre. Tony and I began to speciulate what life must be like for someone who makes a living by pretending to be someone else. We were discussing this when 'Marilyn' came up. She was brilliant, I tried to get her to leave her character, but she stuck to it.
Had you been present you might have seen heard of the greatest drivers ever, a fat old hack and 'Marilyn Monroe' singing 'Running Wild' in loose harmony. I said she way good.
Tony resisted any return to motor racing after the end of 1961 though he did agree to officially open Cadwell Park in 1962, driiving one of Col. Ronnie Hoare's Ferraris, a Testarossa Even though it was a mere demo, Tony took off his shoes so he could better feel the pedals.
I was a teenager (just) and also a trackside marshal. Tony was wearing a suit, he had retired, he had nothing to prove, but his line was perfect, the poise of his car was perfect, he made everyone else (there were some useful drivers present) look like they came from the Slime Pits of Zarg.
Six or seven years ago, I was hanging around at a Goodwood track day, organised by that great enthusiast, Clive Beecham. A voice said 'Fancy a couple of laps, Mike?' I reckoned I was not too pooped to manage that. The car was the ex-Rob Walker Ferrari 250 SWB GT with which Stirling had won the 1961 Tourist Trophy and the driver was Tony Brooks, who was sideways through St Mary's.
As I got out of a Ferrari 250GT driven by Tony Brooks, a Spitfire took off. At that point I said, "Take me now, Lord, from this point on it must be downill." It was a jole, of course.
PS Please, pretty-please, can someone guide me through the Atlas spellchec?
PPS In my enitre adult life. I have never made a spelling mistake, just typing errors.
Posted 03 December 2004 - 03:37
This is great stuff, a fabulous contribution to our knowledge... though I have to say, if you look back through the records, there's a thread or two that acknowledge Nurburgring 1000km winners are something really special, even more so than German GP winners. Except 1957, of course, but that's never doubted, is it?
I recall that Don Capps a time or two has sung the praises of the dentist even louder than he has in this thread.
Keep them coming...
Posted 03 December 2004 - 05:25
Posted 03 December 2004 - 07:18
Barry reminded me that we had shared the same room at Peter Connew's house. Does male, Iron John, bonding get better than that?
There is no biography in CASB, he is not devious enough for that. Tony went to school, trained as a dentist (that's exciting), changed the face of motor racing in his spare time, and started a family and a business. Tony was also, for a short time, Motoring Correspondent for 'The Observer' and he took the job seriously. He was pretty good as well.
In the early 1980s Tony was a judge on the Feroda Trophy panel. He phoned me every year and asked for my opinion. Every year, I told him that Ron Taurenac should get it, and every year he ignored my opinion. You have to bear in mind that, at the time, I had once attempted to speak to Ron and he was so short with me that I did not dare to speak to him for 20 years, when he asked me to write his biography. Hurry to buy, while stocks last.
Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to write a biography of Tony Brooks. My first published motor racing feature was about Tony (Motoring News, 1981, 'Brooks, The Great Unknown'), and he was also the first person I interviewed on radio. Tony was also the very first guest speaker (with John Cooper) some of us began the Goodwood Supporters' Association . which played a fairly important part in giving us the Goodwood Revival Meeting.
Tony is one of the greatest of all drivers, high in my Top Twenty, but there is no book.
Tony is bright and articulate, but he has no idea why he was so bloody brilliant. You might as well ask him how he grows his hair, he doesn't know beacuse it comes naturally.
Okay, now will someone tell me how the Atlas spellcheck works? I tap in, I get a blue screen and nothing I can do makes anything happen. Help!
Posted 03 December 2004 - 09:23
And I don't think it would help you with 'Ferodo' anyway!
Posted 03 December 2004 - 10:54
The main obstacle to Tony ever producing a biographical work is his memory which by his own account is "non-existent". This isn't (quite) literally true, but he takes tremendous prompting and can be easily misled...which is a problem. One of his more obscure works drives was in the Maserati 450S and 300S sports cars. He doesn't recall much about them...
Posted 03 December 2004 - 13:21
Only a small piece, you probably don't recall it, but it made an impression on me !
Posted 03 December 2004 - 14:31
Based upon the data published in the article, Tony Brooks was the best of the group tested, with a small but statistically significant advantage in reflexes, coordination and depth perception. This was surprising at the time, as Moss was judged to be the most gifted driver, yet on the basis of hard scientific evidence, Brooks appeared to be the "most" gifted. The test could not measure the intangible aspect of how efficiently one utilises the gifts one is given and that is probably what actually determines who can give the best result.
I once read an interview with a driver, where he stated that when he is relaxed and in control of the situation, the speed of reality seemed to slow down. It was as if he could see farther down the track and anticipate/react accordingly. On the other hand, when something unexpected occured, the driver sometimes felt overwhelmed and would react on "instinct". He ultimately felt that his job as a driver was to put himself in a position to "slow things down" so that he would be in complete control of the situation. This approach makes sense and anyone who has experimented with sports visualisation exercises can see that there is some truth in the approach.
I bring this up because it may be a clue to Brook's ability. If he did indeed pocess the advantages shown in the physiological study, then maybe he was better able to control and slow down the situation so he could react in the best manner ?
As to his career tragectory after Ferrari, I think the clue may be that he became a top driver reluctantly. He did not enter the field out of a burning pasion to make racing his life's work. After his win at Syracuse, he had to hurry back home to complete his Dental Exams. During his career, I think he may have had his eye other things in addition to racing. It has been said that after his marriage, he began to focus less on his racing career and more on his personal safety.
His 1960 choice of year old Cooper's and then his 1961 choice of BRM can be seen as evidence of his possible change in priorities.
Haveing read Mr. Nye's BRM V-2, Brooks did not seem to have an easy time of things at BRM. He was brought in as an equal number 1 with Hill, yet early on, it was appearant that he would be treated as a distant number-2. He found the situation intolerable and as his passion for racing had waned, he retired at the end of the year. It is debateable whether he would have been able to usurp Hill as #1 in 1962 as BRM was very much his team. It is probable that he would have performed better in the car than Ginther did and highly likely that Brooks would have won a Grand Prix or 2. Whether those wins would have been at Hill's expense we do not know.
Posted 03 December 2004 - 20:41
Originally posted by Doug Nye
I'm a total Tony Brooks fan too. Splendid chap. Really too bright ever to have been a frontline racing driver. In Portugal in 1959 Romolo Tavoni approached former Vanwall team manager and beseeched him "Daveed - how do you make Tony GO!???" - and David replied "Don't waste your time trying to convince him the car is fast...concentrate on convincing him the car is safe, and then watch him do the rest...": a crucial difference from almost any other contemporary frontline racing driver...
In a similar vein, I seem to recall one of those Daily Express competitions to promote a Silverstone event in the '50s. Readers were invited to rank the most important attributes for a racing car from a list. The list gave a bunch of performance related factors, top speed, acceleration, braking power etc., but also included 'comfortable driving position', or words to that effect. Tony acted as judge and guess what ranked first in his list...
Thanks Doug and Mike for further insights. I have long wished for a book on Brooks, but Doug's explanation answers that.
Posted 04 December 2004 - 04:48
Tom Finney, one of the greatest of English football players, was known as 'the Preston plumber' becuse that was his trade. You could have one of the world's top players call round and unblock your sink.
Tony looked to the future and, when he married, he felt that he should not ask his wife to endure the tensions that inevitably followed: look at the number of top drivers who were killed in the late 1950s.
Tony's stint with BRM coincided with the team's used of Coventry Climax FPF engine and he told me more than once it was so gutless that he felt he could drive at Spa while eating a full English breakfast. He has always denied that he lost his edge and likes to mention that in his last race, the 1961 United States GP, he lapped his team-mate, Graham Hill. I have never asked if there were any problems with Graham's car.
Incidentally, Tony got the drive with Connaught at Syracuse because none of the usual suspects was prepared to go for the money being offered. In 1955, operating under a strict rev limit, tony lapped a Connaught nearly five seconds a lap quicker than any subsequent Connaught at the circui, and it was his first outing in a Formula One car.
I have long known that Doug Nye shares my admiration for Brooks. I seem to recall that Nigel Roebuch once presented his All-Time Top Twenty in Autosport and, if memory serves me right, he had Tony in ninth spot. There have been other drivers who have come to the sport , Michael Schumacher for one, who will probably demote Tony a place or two, but Roebuck's opinions I respect.
Posted 04 December 2004 - 09:46
I am a great admirer of Tony Brooks, see http://forums.atlasf...&threadid=36818, but I'm not sure about that. Restricting myself to Grand Prix drivers of the world championship era, I would start with Ascari, Fangio, Moss, Clark, Stewart, Prost, Senna and Schumacher. That's eight, and I'm not sure which of those Brooks would replace.
Originally posted by Barry Boor
Only 9th! I'd put him nearer the top than that!
I think Tony Brooks was a very great driver, but his caution, or if you prefer his intelligence, counted against him as a racing driver. I can't imagine Moss retiring from Sebring because he thought his car might be damaged, whether the world championship was at stake or not. Perhaps a few slower laps to make sure everything felt ok, but then the lap record starts to fall. On the other hand, I can't imagine Brooks almost killing himself trying to break the lap record when two laps behind in a hacked-about two-year old car.
Regarding the 1959 championship, it is possible that Brooks would have won it if Spa had been held and Ferrari had raced at Aintree. However, if Moss had a Cooper with a reliable gearbox all season I don't think we'd be discussing the matter.
Posted 04 December 2004 - 09:56
...though Brooks's 1961 British GP drive almost fits that description
Originally posted by Roger Clark
On the other hand, I can't imagine Brooks almost killing himself trying to break the lap record when two laps behind in a hacked-about two-year old car.
Posted 04 December 2004 - 16:52
I happen to have a great admiration for Tony Brooks -- warts and all, just I do for a number of other drivers. I think that when Brooks decided to walk away from racing, he wanted to literally do that, walk away.
Driver hero worship is a pandemic virus here and on all the other similar fora out there. Brooks was very much his own man in many ways, something that is clearer to me in retrospect. He saw life through a very different lens did, say, Stirling Moss or Jack Brabham or Mike Hawthorn. At the time I first met him, the 1957 period, I "liked" him along with a galaxy of others. By 1961, Brooks was well established on my Short List. That he took moments here and there to chat with me did not hurt that position.
As much I genuinely love the Jean Behra, Gilles Villeneuve, Curtis Turner, Joe Weatherly, and Ronnie Peterson crowd, there is a special place in my pantheon for those like Tony Brooks, Phil Hill, Joe Leonard, David Pearson, and the others who approached racing from a different direction.
Not until Tony Brooks was absent from the scene did I really begin to genuinely appreciate him. One can only imagine what could have been....
Posted 04 December 2004 - 21:09
Posted 05 December 2004 - 14:41
Originally posted by Doug Nye
...spare a special thought or two over the next couple of weeks for the good health of Moss and Brabham, both of whom are rather going through the mill at the moment...
Doug, I have been both busy and travelling in recent weeks and know nothing of this. Are you able to elaborate please?
Posted 05 December 2004 - 19:00
Welcome to TNF Mike
I hope everything will go well with Moss and Brabham. Keep us informed please.
Posted 05 December 2004 - 19:08
Posted 05 December 2004 - 19:19
Originally posted by Doug Nye
Sir Jack currently has an eye problem which is really getting him down and restricting his activities while Sir Stirl - confined for weeks to a wheelchair for comfort's sake - is having yet another spinal operation this coming week to relieve him of the trapped-nerve problems he has found so limiting since the summer...
Thank you very much Don. They are in my prayers and let's hope their respective healths will get better asap.
Posted 05 December 2004 - 21:33
Wish them our best if you're talking to them, Doug...
Posted 06 December 2004 - 08:13
Posted 06 December 2004 - 12:53
Recently (in fact at my birthday) I had the chance of meeting Mister Stirling Moss at Vila Real and chat a litle with him (also to take some fotos with my litle daughter and him ).
Even if he was resting in a wheel chair he went after to drive a Merc 300SL a couple of laps around the circuit :bg:
He and his wife were extremely kind to me and to my daughter so I was delighted to have been able to meet them
After I send him a CD with unpublished fotos of Porto 1958 he quickly sent me the most nice letter of thanks including a hug to my Ana
You can imagine that I am even a bigger fan of him then I was before.
I can only wish him a fast and complete recovery and all the best to him and his family.
The same wishes of course to Mister Jack Brabham