Jump to content


Photo

Tony Brooks


  • Please log in to reply
85 replies to this topic

#1 GMiranda

GMiranda
  • Member

  • 777 posts
  • Joined: April 13

Posted 03 May 2022 - 18:01

One of the finest drivers ever passed away, according to the Goodwood Revival social media:

 

We are very sad to announce the passing of Tony Brooks, the last surviving Grand Prix winner from the 1950s. A winner of the Nürburgring 1000km and the RAC Tourist Trophy, Brooks, known as the 'Racing Dentist', was one of the greatest drivers never to have been World Champion. At the 1957 Grand Prix at Aintree he claimed the first World Championship win for a British car, one of six during his racing career, which ended in 1961. Our thoughts are with his family.

 

 

Farewell to a champion and one of my heroes from the past. After Elford, it is terribly sad. :cry:



Advertisement

#2 Risil

Risil
  • Administrator

  • 48,862 posts
  • Joined: February 07

Posted 03 May 2022 - 18:06

Oh no, that is very sad.

 

To that list of achievements I would also like to add his unexpected first international victory with Connaught at the Grand Prix of Siracusa in 1955.



#3 Macca

Macca
  • Member

  • 3,671 posts
  • Joined: January 03

Posted 03 May 2022 - 18:10

Very sad news - deepest sympathy to his family.

RIP, C.A.S.Brooks.


Paul M

Edited by Macca, 03 May 2022 - 18:12.


#4 Vitesse2

Vitesse2
  • Administrator

  • 39,041 posts
  • Joined: April 01

Posted 03 May 2022 - 18:32

I'm too young to have seen CASB race, but my abiding memory of him is from my first visit to the FoS. Practice day, early(ish) in the morning. Planted myself in one of the stands - first car to go past, a Vanwall, driver in a dark brown old-style helmet. On the limit ...



#5 Doug Nye

Doug Nye
  • Member

  • 10,996 posts
  • Joined: February 02

Posted 03 May 2022 - 18:40

VERY sad news, quite a shock to see this just now, though not entirely unexpected.  Tony could be as professionally competitive as one could ever imagine - yet he always remained the complete - to be honest if occasionally whittery - gentleman. Heartfelt condolences to his wonderful wife Pina, and to their family.  I am so glad now that he saw both his autobiography published, and saw it succeed, and that he also saw the revised 'Vanwall' book completed, featuring his foreword.  

 

Bye Tony - it has been an absolute pleasure... Rest easy.

 

Tony and Stirl - celebrating what for the immediate postwar generation of fans was simply British motor racing's greatest day.

 

GPL-VANWALL-1957-Moss-Tony-Brooks-Podium

 

Near-equal stars...

 

GPL-VANWALL-1957-BRITISH-GP-WINNING-PAIR

 

Never doubt the inner steel that Tony's impeccably smooth and stylish driving so tended to disguise...

 

GPL-1958-Belgian-GP-Brooks-Vanwall.jpg

 

GPL-1958-Spa-Brooks-WINNER-Vanwall-1st-3

 

Sports car star with Aston Martin...

 

GPL-GDWD-1958-TT-Tony-Brooks-Aston-Marti

 

And a devoted family man, here at the beginning of his long marriage to lovely, vivacious, Italian Pina.

 

GPL-TONY-AND-PINA-BROOKS-1-1958-3.jpg

 

Photos from: The GP Library

 

DCN


Edited by Doug Nye, 03 May 2022 - 19:43.


#6 Nick Planas

Nick Planas
  • Member

  • 287 posts
  • Joined: April 08

Posted 03 May 2022 - 18:42

Oh no - what a terrible shame; very sad news. Such a gentleman, on and off the track, yet wickedly fast - and probably the most underrated GP winner ever by those who don't really know the sport of the 50s & 60s.

 

A life well-lived though.

 

RIP and condolences to his family



#7 PaulButler58

PaulButler58
  • New Member

  • 16 posts
  • Joined: March 16

Posted 03 May 2022 - 18:45

Sad News indeed , RIP Tony Brooks



#8 cpbell

cpbell
  • Member

  • 6,070 posts
  • Joined: December 07

Posted 03 May 2022 - 18:47

Just saw this news on Twitter - how sad.  I feel that he was one of the best drivers to not be considered a "Great" and that his artistry with a front-engined car was of the highest class.  He also, as far as I am aware, conducted himself as an absolute gentleman, and was obviously devoted to Pina and their children.  I fear that his style of driving, let alone his approach to racing, is in the past - the inheritors of his approach to driving quickly, the likes of Prost and Button, have not been replaced by younger drivers, and this might mean that Tony Brooks' legacy may not be appreciated.



#9 Gary C

Gary C
  • Member

  • 5,382 posts
  • Joined: January 01

Posted 03 May 2022 - 18:51

Very sorry to hear this, every time I saw or heard him being interviewed he always came across as one of the good guys.

#10 68targa

68targa
  • Member

  • 751 posts
  • Joined: October 19

Posted 03 May 2022 - 18:53

Oh this is indeed very sad news. One of the very, very best who achieved so much at a time when racing was so dangerous. Like Stirling, he managed to survive the sport and leave a lasting legacy. Sadly missed but always remembered. RIP and condolences to his family.



#11 D28

D28
  • Member

  • 1,819 posts
  • Joined: April 14

Posted 03 May 2022 - 19:02

Sad to read this. He was winding things down just as I began following F1. In an interview I remember, he said that he didn't much care for the 1.5l cars and retired a bit early.

 

The inevitable passing of the great racers continues, sobering to read he was the last WDC GP winner from the 1950s. More sobering, I believe I read here, that that Jacky Ickx and Jackie Stewart are the only remaining winners from the 1960s. For the first 20 years of WDC competition, only 2 winners are still with us.



#12 ktrhe

ktrhe
  • Member

  • 86 posts
  • Joined: February 10

Posted 03 May 2022 - 19:02

brookstony-2012-fos-gswk8n.jpg

 

Very sad news indeed, a true gentleman and a very good racer

My condolences to his family.



#13 D-Type

D-Type
  • Member

  • 9,541 posts
  • Joined: February 03

Posted 03 May 2022 - 19:07

Sad news.  My sympathies to Pina and the rest of his family. 

 

Farewell to the last winner of a 1950s GP and the last in a front-engined car.  An era has passed.

​I found out when I read his book that I was present when he made his Formula 1, and single-seater, debut in the 1955 London Trophy at Crystal Palace when he drove Riseley-Prichard's ex-Formula 2 Type A Connaught to 4th place- although I was too young to remember it.  This and other competent performances in national races led to his works drive at Syracusa.


Edited by D-Type, 03 May 2022 - 22:49.


#14 Richard Jenkins

Richard Jenkins
  • Member

  • 7,077 posts
  • Joined: November 00

Posted 03 May 2022 - 19:15

Point of reference, kthre, CAS's name was Charles Anthony Standish, not Stanford.

I think I've said it before on here, but still one of my most cherished moments these last few years is having a 15 to 20 minute phone call with Tony, who was as I'd imagined him to be; helpful, enthusiastic, modest about his own achievements and incredibly supportive.

This is a sad day as we lose a great man and a whole slice of history. But the greater loss will be to Pina, to whom I send my sincerest condolences.

#15 Tim Murray

Tim Murray
  • Moderator

  • 23,969 posts
  • Joined: May 02

Posted 03 May 2022 - 19:27

Dreadful news. Tony was one of my very favourite drivers. Sincere condolences to Pina and all his other family and friends.



#16 Claudio Navonne

Claudio Navonne
  • Member

  • 147 posts
  • Joined: February 03

Posted 03 May 2022 - 20:09

DSC01057.jpg

 

DSC01059.jpg

DSC01095.jpg

 

Very sad news. When I first became interested in motorsport at the age of 11, he had been retired for several years, but I was always attracted to his driving style. In 2008 I had the immense good fortune to go to the Goodwood Revival, and meet him and was able, in my clumsy English, to ask him for a photo. He gently asked me where I was from, and his wife on hearing my reply said "from the country of the greatest: Fangio". The emotion still lasts to this day.


 



#17 LittleChris

LittleChris
  • Member

  • 3,015 posts
  • Joined: April 01

Posted 03 May 2022 - 20:10

So sad to hear this. A couple of weeks ago I enjoyed listening again to a Motor Sport podcast he did at the time his book was published. RIP Tony Brooks 



#18 d j fox

d j fox
  • Member

  • 255 posts
  • Joined: November 05

Posted 03 May 2022 - 20:12

Very sad news. A great, often underrated, driver.
Condolences to family and friends

#19 AllanL

AllanL
  • New Member

  • 24 posts
  • Joined: November 14

Posted 03 May 2022 - 20:14

Such a sad loss of a true racer and gentleman.

 

I believe that Stirling Moss said that he would have been his first choice for a fantasy F1 team with Jim Clark as No. 2.

 

At the Goodwood Revival in '17 he went by in the Vanwall with a grin spreading from ear to ear.  It is one of my favourite wallpapers.

 

iC0nPB5.jpg


Edited by AllanL, 03 May 2022 - 20:15.


Advertisement

#20 Jahn1234567890

Jahn1234567890
  • Member

  • 121 posts
  • Joined: January 19

Posted 03 May 2022 - 20:17

Very sad news. As mentioned before Tony Brooks was the last surviving GP winner of the 50's. He was a true gentleman and one of the vert best of his time. My sincerest condolences to his family and friends.



#21 sstiel

sstiel
  • New Member

  • 369 posts
  • Joined: June 08

Posted 03 May 2022 - 20:22

Sincere condolences to all concerned. He, Stirling Moss and many others put Britain on the motorsport map in the Fifties and beyond.

Isn't it true Stirling said in response to a question that if he could pick any two drivers he wanted for his ideal Formula One team who would he pick, he answered Jim Clark and Tony?



#22 Vitesse2

Vitesse2
  • Administrator

  • 39,041 posts
  • Joined: April 01

Posted 03 May 2022 - 20:30

 

Bye Tony - it has been an absolute pleasure... Rest easy.

 

Tony and Stirl - celebrating what for the immediate postwar generation of fans was simply British motor racing's greatest day.

 

GPL-VANWALL-1957-Moss-Tony-Brooks-Podium

 


Photos from: The GP Library

 

DCN

His Lordship looks somewhat misty-eyed as well.

 

(That's Earl Howe between CASB and SCM - in case anyone didn't recognise him! Tie askew as usual ...)
 



#23 Michael Ferner

Michael Ferner
  • Member

  • 6,395 posts
  • Joined: November 09

Posted 03 May 2022 - 20:55

Oh no, how terribly sad! :(

 

RIP, Tony Brooks :cry:



#24 Bloggsworth

Bloggsworth
  • Member

  • 9,035 posts
  • Joined: April 07

Posted 03 May 2022 - 21:06

One by one they fall, as fall they must, but the memories live on; echoing Philip Larkin's last line from "An Arundell Tomb" - "What will survive of us is love."


Edited by Bloggsworth, 03 May 2022 - 21:08.


#25 Alan Lewis

Alan Lewis
  • Member

  • 748 posts
  • Joined: December 02

Posted 03 May 2022 - 21:19

Mention of his name always makes me think of the opening lines of the chapter on him in Nigel Roebuck's "Grand Prix Greats", a quote by Stirling Moss: "Tony is, if he'll forgive my saying it, the greatest 'unknown' racing driver there has ever been. He was far better than many who won the World Championship."

So, no more World Championship race winners from the fifties. Is Jackie Stewart now the oldest, having already become oldest Champion?

#26 Coral

Coral
  • Member

  • 5,637 posts
  • Joined: January 07

Posted 03 May 2022 - 21:26

Awww so sad. RIP Tony. :cry:  :(



#27 Collombin

Collombin
  • Member

  • 6,574 posts
  • Joined: March 05

Posted 03 May 2022 - 21:34

So, no more World Championship race winners from the fifties. Is Jackie Stewart now the oldest, having already become oldest Champion?


Must be - I think he and Mario are the only two now in their 80s.

#28 messy

messy
  • Member

  • 6,268 posts
  • Joined: October 15

Posted 03 May 2022 - 21:40

Such sad news, knew immediately when I saw this topic on the sidebar that this would be bad news. Such a great driver from that era. RIP.

#29 PayasYouRace

PayasYouRace
  • RC Forum Host

  • 35,441 posts
  • Joined: January 10

Posted 03 May 2022 - 21:48

Very sad to see this news. His Beyond the Grid episode was brilliant. I feel like I'd have been a fan if I was around in the 50s.



#30 Alan Lewis

Alan Lewis
  • Member

  • 748 posts
  • Joined: December 02

Posted 03 May 2022 - 22:01

Must be - I think he and Mario are the only two now in their 80s.


Yes, just "done my homework" on statsf1.com: Sir Jackie takes on both the oldest surviving winner and oldest living pole sitter records (as Tony did from Stirling). Hans Herrman has the fastest lap mark, Paul Goldsmith the points and podium honours, and Kenneth McAlpine, of course, is the oldest living driver.

#31 JacnGille

JacnGille
  • Member

  • 2,706 posts
  • Joined: July 02

Posted 03 May 2022 - 22:33

Sad news



#32 cooper997

cooper997
  • Member

  • 3,432 posts
  • Joined: December 08

Posted 03 May 2022 - 23:42

Quite literally the end of an era.

 

Here's Tony shown when he took the chequer at Syracuse.

 

1955-Autosport-Brooks-Connaught-TNF.jpg

 

My condolences to the Brooks family and friends

 

 

Stephen



#33 Gary Davies

Gary Davies
  • Member

  • 5,793 posts
  • Joined: April 01

Posted 04 May 2022 - 00:43

A wonderful gentleman, a brilliant driver, especially at those places where real courage and impeccable judgment were required. A life well lived.

I remain so impressed with his decision to stop and have his Ferrari checked over at Sebring 1959 after its wallop by von Trips’ sister car when a World Championship was possible. An admirable demonstration of the sanctity of life.

Thank you, sir.



#34 Rediscoveryx

Rediscoveryx
  • Member

  • 2,703 posts
  • Joined: August 01

Posted 04 May 2022 - 04:11

Sad to hear this. He was a man of an era before I discovered motor racing but always struck me as an underrated driver and a true gentleman.

#35 blackmme

blackmme
  • Member

  • 873 posts
  • Joined: September 08

Posted 04 May 2022 - 06:21

Before my time as a spectator but as PayasYouRace said his ‘Beyond The Grid’ episode was just riveting and my favourite from a very high quality series.

Not a lot I can add to the comments of people who met him and knew him but obviously a life very well lived indeed.

 

RIP Tony.

 

Regards Mike



#36 ellrosso

ellrosso
  • Member

  • 1,495 posts
  • Joined: May 07

Posted 04 May 2022 - 07:06

RIP Tony Brooks. Sincere condolences to his wife, family and friends. Love that b/w pic of he and Stirling with post race grime on their faces.



#37 Alan Baker

Alan Baker
  • Member

  • 186 posts
  • Joined: January 03

Posted 04 May 2022 - 09:26

As we tread the weary path through life, we know that news like this is inevitable, but no less sad. The complete artist at the wheel, but perhaps too intelligent a man to allow winning to become an obsession. RIP Tony.



#38 Ray Bell

Ray Bell
  • Member

  • 75,234 posts
  • Joined: December 99

Posted 04 May 2022 - 10:12

Apart from the Coca-Cola advertising, Doug's pictures are a perfect tribute to this man among men...

 

I missed his 'live' career altogether, but I've picked up along the way the solid undercurrent of respect and admiration for the man and his driving. Seeing these pictures simply underlines what I've been reading for decades.

 

As we've reached this inevitable moment in his time it's great to reflect on the character behind the name. Thank you to all who met or knew him for adding your words to our knowledge.



#39 Gary Davies

Gary Davies
  • Member

  • 5,793 posts
  • Joined: April 01

Posted 04 May 2022 - 10:37

A small aside but one I hope might be of slight interest. When I lived in the Adelaide Hills - 1982-2013 - I would now and then drop into the ‘Aldgate Pump’ on a Sunday for a quick jar while waiting for our pizzas to be prepared over the road. One of the joys of that brief escape was to chat with a delightful fellow who was…. a nephew of CASB. He was, as I recall, a regular fixture and full of affectionate stories.

‘tis a small world.



Advertisement

#40 Sterzo

Sterzo
  • Member

  • 3,077 posts
  • Joined: September 11

Posted 04 May 2022 - 10:54

The complete artist at the wheel...

Indeed, something he had in common with Stirling Moss. The image of them racing their DBR1s at Oulton Park, heads canted and arms outstretched, lives on.



#41 Roger Clark

Roger Clark
  • Member

  • 7,329 posts
  • Joined: February 00

Posted 04 May 2022 - 11:22

If I were a racing driver, the races I would want most to win were at Spa, the Nurburgring and Monza - two because they were the most demanding and the third because it's Monza.  Tony Brooks' record there tells you far more than the number of wins he had.



#42 rl1856

rl1856
  • Member

  • 289 posts
  • Joined: November 03

Posted 04 May 2022 - 13:19

RIP  CAS Brooks.     A Gentle Man who cherished life.

 

He came along at a turning point in racing.   The devil may care, fatalistic approach of many was slowly giving way to studied professionalism.  It was to Brooks' detriment that he was forever compared to Moss.   They were contemporaries, and team mates, but their approach to the sport could not have been different.   One could argue that Brooks may have been the better driver, but did not have the determination possessed by Moss.   Brooks chose life instead of career, and slowly receded into the background, until re-emerging as an elder statesman of the sport.

 

Poetry in Motion was the title of his autobiography, and really is there any better way to describe the man and the driver ?   

 

It is to our collective disappointment that there have been few others like CAS Brooks.



#43 P0wderf1nger

P0wderf1nger
  • Member

  • 408 posts
  • Joined: June 07

Posted 04 May 2022 - 14:32

Richard Williams has written a fine tribute in the Guardian.

https://www.theguard...brooks-obituary



#44 Doug Nye

Doug Nye
  • Member

  • 10,996 posts
  • Joined: February 02

Posted 04 May 2022 - 14:42

Freshly received, from the BRDC:

 

 

It is with great sadness that we must inform Members that Tony Brooks, one of Great Britain’s greatest Grand Prix drivers, has died. He was 90 years old and had been in declining health for some time. He was one of the longest-serving BRDC Members, having first been elected as a Full Member in 1954 and subsequently becoming a Life Member.

 

Tony will forever be remembered as one of the pre-eminent British racing drivers of the 1950s and early ‘60s. He played a major role in some of the milestones of British motor racing. In 1955, while still a dental student at Manchester University, he won the Gran Premio di Siracusa in Sicily driving a Connaught B-type. It was his first race in a Formula 1 car in which he had never sat until 24 hours before the start of the race. He learned the circuit, which he had never previously seen, on a hired Vespa scooter while waiting for the Connaught venerable coach of a transporter to arrive.

 

Starting on the front row of the grid alongside the factory Maserati 250Fs of Luigi Musso and Luigi Villoresi, Tony fought wheel-to-wheel with Italy’s finest before taking the lead once and for all at around one quarter distance. Trading lap records with Luigi Musso, Tony eased away to win the two-and-a-half-hour race by over 50 seconds. On the long flight back home, he carried on revising for his dentistry finals! This was the first victory for a British car in a full-length, albeit non-championship, Grand Prix since 1924.

 

Less than two years later Tony, ably backed up by the late Noel Cunningham-Reid as his co-driver, gave the Aston Martin DBR1 its first major success by winning the Nurburgring 1000 Kms round of the World Sports Car Championship. Eight weeks later, having injured himself quite badly in a crash during the Le Mans 24 Hours and still feeling rather stiff and sore, Tony started the European (British) Grand Prix at Aintree in the Vanwall which he handed over to Stirling Moss and between them win a World Championship Formula 1 Grand Prix for a British car for the first time ever.

 

Tony’s solo victories for Vanwall came the following year when he won the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa Francorchamps, the German Grand Prix on the Nurburgring Nordschleife and the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, helping Tony Vandervell’s team to win the first World Constructors’ Championship.

 

Coincidentally with Stirling Moss, Tony’s father was a successful dental surgeon but, unlike Stirling whose racing career began in 500 cc Formula 3 single-seaters, Tony followed the sports car route, initially in his mother’s Healey Silverstone in 1952, principally at Goodwood which was a fair old trek in those pre-motorway days from Dukinfield near Manchester where Tony lived. He won a couple of the customary short handicap races and showed well in others.

 

The Silverstone was retained for a second season in Coronation Year when Tony also had the opportunity to race a Frazer Nash Le Mans Replica for Arthur Hely and his son Dudley. Pending the emergence of the lightweight, MG and Coventry-Climax engined Lotus and Coopers, the Le Mans Replica was the sports-racing car of choice under 2-litres and Tony was able to race extensively and successfully at race tracks around the British Isles through to 1955.

 

Tony’s driving was being noticed by motor racing cognoscenti, including Denis Jenkinson (‘Jenks’) of 'Motor Sport' magazine who had just won the Mille Miglia with Stirling Moss in a Mercedes-Benz 300SLR. ‘Jenks’ wrote: ‘I had seen him once, at a Goodwood meeting and could not fail to see an inborn talent and sense of balance and artistry that made most people look like amateurs: he took Woodcote Corner in one long controlled slide and beautifully placed for the chicane that followed, then nicked it through the chicane and made it look very easy. The driving of Brooks was so smooth and effortless and flowing, with the car balanced at the limit of adhesion.’ Informed praise indeed from someone who was never easily impressed!

 

Someone else who had noticed Tony’s performances in the Frazer Nash was John Wyer, Competitions Manager of Aston Martin, and another individual who was steeped in motor racing and not easily impressed. Tony was invited to a test day at Chalgrove airfield when, according to Peter Miller of Aston Martin, Tony consistently lapped more than three seconds faster over a 2-minute lap than the team’s regular drivers. Tony’s first race with Aston Martin soon followed; it was the 1955 Le Mans 24 Hours with John Riseley-Prichard as co-driver. The latter raced a Formula 2 Connaught A-type but having witnessed Tony’s talents at first hand at Le Mans, had no hesitation in offering him the opportunity of some races in the major British events. A series of impressive results with the 2-litre car against 2.5 litre F1 cars laid the foundation for the invitation to drive in the F1 Connaught at Siracusa.

 

By the beginning of 1956 Tony had come to be recognised, together with Stirling Moss, Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins, as an outstanding driver. As Stirling committed to Maserati and Peter to Ferrari for 1956, Mike opted for BRM, and Tony chose to follow suit. It was a bad decision. Second place in the Aintree 200 to Stirling Moss’s privately-run Maserati 250F may look good on paper but by the end of the race Tony had been lapped and the car had long since run out of brakes. After assorted car problems resulted in failure to start the Monaco Grand Prix, disaster struck during the British Grand Prix at Silverstone when, approaching Abbey Curve, the throttle stuck open, causing the wretched car to crash heavily, Tony being thrown out before, to quote Tony ‘It did the only decent thing and set itself on fire’.

 

Tony sustained a broken jaw, chipped ankle, and various abrasions. Neither Mike nor Tony had any further interest in driving for BRM in 1956. For Tony the year ended on an encouraging note with victory for Aston Martin in a DB3S at Goodwood, in Rob Walker’s Mercedes-Benz 300SL at Oulton Park and in a Formula 2 race at Brands Hatch in Rob’s Cooper-Climax T41. 

 

For 1957 Tony signed up with Vanwall as team mate to Stirling Moss while continuing with Aston Martin for sports car racing and with Rob Walker for Formula 2. In addition to the Nurburgring 1000 Ks victory already mentioned, Tony won two major sports car races at Spa-Francorchamps – the Spa Grand Prix and the Belgian Sports Car Grand Prix – but crashed in the Le Mans 24 Hours. 

 

In Formula 1, in addition to the historic victory with Stirling Moss at Aintree with the Vanwall, Tony was second only to Juan Manuel Fangio’s Maserati 250F in the Monaco Grand Prix. In those days the Monaco Grand Prix lasted for 100 laps and required some 25 gear changes per lap. Early in the race, Tony’s clutch failed, causing gear-changing to be somewhat problematic. By the end, his left hand resembled a piece of raw steak.

 

Tony remained with Vanwall as Stirling’s team mate in 1958, with Stuart Lewis-Evans, who had joined the team partway through 1957, as third driver. Tony’s first solo World Championship victory came at one of his favourite circuits the ‘old’ Spa-Francorchamps in the Belgian Grand Prix, but it was touch and go as his Vanwall’s gearbox almost seized solid at the final corner – in those days the La Source hairpin. Further victories followed at the Nurburgring and Monza which brought Tony third place in the World Championship behind Mike Hawthorn and Stirling Moss. Together with Stirling, Tony won the half-points final round of the World Sports Car Championship - the RAC Tourist Trophy at Goodwood in an Aston Martin DBR1.

 

For various reasons, principally the death of Vanwall team driver Stuart Lewis-Evans from burns sustained in a fiery crash in the Moroccan Grand Prix, Tony Vandervell withdrew from fulltime participation in the Formula 1 World Championship in 1959 so Tony was snapped up by Enzo Ferrari to drive one of the potent Dino 246s in Formula 1 and a 250 Testa Rossa in sports car races, the latter not to include the Le Mans 24 Hours, a race with which Tony had become disenchanted.

 

His team mates would include the fiery French driver Jean Behra, Phil Hill, Cliff Allison and, from the French Grand Prix onwards, the very impressive Dan Gurney. On a scorchingly hot day at Reims, Tony won the French Grand Prix and a few weeks later prevailed in the German Grand Prix at the AVUS autobahn track in West Berlin.

 

A strike at Ferrari meant that the Scuderia was prevented from contesting the British Grand Prix at Aintree where ‘Jeannot’ and Tony had finished first and second (Tony with a smaller-capacity engine) in the Aintree 200 at the start of the season.

 

The revised Vanwall which Tony was able to drive instead (of his Ferraris), proved to be a major disappointment. Going into the final round of the World Championship – the first United States Grand Prix at Sebring – Tony had more than an outside chance of winning the title against opposition from Cooper-Climax drivers Stirling Moss and Jack Brabham. After being deprived of his front row grid position by Harry Schell’s shenanigans and being rammed on the opening lap by his impetuous team mate ‘Taffy’ von Trips which caused Tony to visit the pits to check for any damage, he pressed on to such good effect that he climbed back to third place after Stirling had retired early on and Jack had run out of fuel on the last lap. Although Sebring was not a Ferrari circuit, it is reasonable to suppose that Tony would have won the race and the World Championship had he not been delayed by the pit stop.

 

By then Tony and his wife Pina had started a family and had also opened a garage business, having concluded that a career in dentistry was incompatible with a career in front-line motor racing. Another year with Ferrari would have been possible but his other commitments meant that Tony felt that his personal interests would be better served by driving for a team nearer home. Tony Vandervell wanted to keep his team active, but it soon became apparent that he could not offer Tony a full season of racing in 1960. Of the limited options available, Tony chose the British Racing Partnership/Yeoman Credit team of Cooper-Climax T51s, new cars but a year out of date. For someone who had come so close to being World Champion, it was a hugely disappointing season with a fourth (Monaco) and two fifth places (Great Britain and Portugal) the only points-scoring results.

 

The decision to return to BRM for 1961, the first year of the 1500 cc Formula 1, seemed to be the right one at the time. His contract gave Tony equal status with team mate Graham Hill but the reality was rather different in the political minefield that was BRM. Despite the way he was treated, Tony gave the team its best results of the year with third place in the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen and fastest lap in the British Grand Prix at Aintree. However, the smaller cars did not really appeal to Tony who for example now discovered that the challenge of Spa-Francorchamps was reduced to a nearly flat-out lap apart from La Source hairpin. He decided to retire, only to watch from the sidelines as Graham Hill and BRM won the drivers’ and constructors’ titles in 1962.

 

In retirement from driving Tony never lost his interest in Formula 1 while growing his motor business in Woking, initially as main dealers for Fiat and Lancia and subsequently for Ford. During his racing career he had regularly contributed insightful race reports to 'The Observer' with which he continued whilst also adding equally perceptive television commentary for a while. He was often to be encountered participating in Vanwall, Ferrari and Aston Martin retrospective events, always willing to talk about his era of Formula 1 or about the contemporary scene in his unassuming but forthright and meticulous manner. i

 

When Tony left Scuderia Ferrari at the end of 1959, Il Commendatore described him as ‘a marvellous man….a fast driver who enjoyed the fast circuits. He was an honest man. But maybe too much sometimes towards others…..a gentleman who I appreciated a lot as a man, and especially as a driver’. For Dan Gurney Tony had ‘earned the title of the Ferrari team leader. He was quietly the best, the fastest, the nicest and most polite and a great fighter on the race tracks’. Stirling Moss once said that, if he had been able to have his own Formula 1 team, the two drivers he would have wanted to drive for him would have been Tony Brooks and Jim Clark.

 

Most people reading this will not have seen Tony Brooks in a race. As a classical stylist, relaxed behind the wheel with arms outstretched, displaying an innate sense of balance, he was up there with Stirling and Jimmy. His autobiography, published in 2012 and all his own work, is fittingly entitled Poetry in Motion; it is now out of print but well worth tracking down. The dust jacket is red and depicts Tony at the peak of his powers in the Ferrari Dino 246.

 

Tony will be very much missed. To his delightful wife Pina and their five children Caroline, David, Michele, Julia and Stephanie and to his many friends and admirers, the BRDC offers its most profound condolences at the loss of a much-loved husband and father and one of the finest Grand Prix drivers of all time.   

 

DCN

 



#45 Leif Snellman

Leif Snellman
  • Member

  • 1,123 posts
  • Joined: February 00

Posted 04 May 2022 - 14:44

RIP



#46 Michael Ferner

Michael Ferner
  • Member

  • 6,395 posts
  • Joined: November 09

Posted 04 May 2022 - 16:15

"... one of the finest Grand Prix drivers of all time."

 

 

 

Amen.



#47 D28

D28
  • Member

  • 1,819 posts
  • Joined: April 14

Posted 04 May 2022 - 18:15

 

 

The revised Vanwall which Tony was able to drive instead (of his Ferraris), proved to be a major disappointment. Going into the final round of the World Championship – the first United States Grand Prix at Sebring – Tony had more than an outside chance of winning the title against opposition from Cooper-Climax drivers Stirling Moss and Jack Brabham. After being deprived of his front row grid position by Harry Schell’s shenanigans and being rammed on the opening lap by his impetuous team mate ‘Taffy’ von Trips which caused Tony to visit the pits to check for any damage, he pressed on to such good effect that he climbed back to third place after Stirling had retired early on and Jack had run out of fuel on the last lap. Although Sebring was not a Ferrari circuit, it is reasonable to suppose that Tony would have won the race and the World Championship had he not been delayed by the pit stop.

 

DCN

 

 

I have wondered about his chances at nailing down the Championship at Sebring in 59. Has this been discussed. analysed here previously?

He would have needed the win, 2nd would only have netted him 2 extra points, not enough to overcome  Jack's numbers. Various Coopers led every lap and Trintignant ended up with FL. So it would have come down to out dueling a very young Bruce McLaren. Brooks was no doubt up for that, but the outcome is hard to imagine, though interesting to consider. A Very interesting  What If?


Edited by D28, 04 May 2022 - 19:57.


#48 sstiel

sstiel
  • New Member

  • 369 posts
  • Joined: June 08

Posted 04 May 2022 - 19:00

Sorry if expressing ignorance. Why did Tony retire in 1961? Was it for reasons of safety and family? 

29 years old at the time. 


Edited by sstiel, 04 May 2022 - 19:00.


#49 Vitesse2

Vitesse2
  • Administrator

  • 39,041 posts
  • Joined: April 01

Posted 04 May 2022 - 19:24

Sorry if expressing ignorance. Why did Tony retire in 1961? Was it for reasons of safety and family? 

29 years old at the time. 

Covered in the BRDC obituary Doug quoted above:

 

However, the smaller cars did not really appeal to Tony who for example now discovered that the challenge of Spa-Francorchamps was reduced to a nearly flat-out lap apart from La Source hairpin.

Although family and business reasons were likely part of the equation - even if not admitted in public. It was also about the time that Sir Alfred Owen was threatening just to close down BRM if success was not forthcoming - they had of course at that time just one World Championship race win to show for nearly a decade and a half of effort and still hadn't really shaken off their 'music hall joke' image.



#50 Vitesse2

Vitesse2
  • Administrator

  • 39,041 posts
  • Joined: April 01

Posted 04 May 2022 - 19:36

Looks like family was a major part of it. Daily Mail, 1st December 1961:

 

DMHA-1961-1201-0009.jpg

 

Daily Mail 5th December:

 

DMHA-1961-1205-0007.jpg

 

His first column in The Observer appeared in January 1962 ...