Tony Brooks, last F1 winner of the 1950s, dies at 90
Tony Brooks, the British ‘racing dentist’ who was the last Formula 1 Grand Prix winner of the 1950s and finished second in the 1959 world championship, has died aged 90.
“I was saddened to hear the news of Tony Brooks’ death,” Formula 1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali said in a statement.
“He was part of a special group of riders who pioneered and pushed the boundaries in times of great risk.”
Charles Anthony Standish Brooks, known as Tony, won six Grands Prix during one of the sport’s deadliest eras, making his league debut with BRM in 1956 and retiring in 1961 at the age 29 years old.
He also drove for Vanwall, Ferrari and Cooper.
“Brooks was a terrific driver, the greatest – if he’ll forgive me for saying it – an ‘unknown’ racing driver that ever existed,” fellow deceased Stirling Moss told writer Nigel Roebuck in the book. 1986 “Grand Prize Greats”.
“He was much better than several people who won the world championship.”
The Briton, an avid amateur racer, was a 23-year-old dental student at the University of Manchester preparing for his final when he won the non-championship 1955 Syracuse Grand Prix in Sicily.
“I was sucking when they [Connaught] called me, a few days before the race,” he recalled. “I had never sat in a Formula 1 car before, but I said yes distractedly and hung up the phone.
He missed the first day of testing, learned the track on a rental scooter and beat the factory Maseratis of established F1 drivers Luigi Musso and Luigi Villoresi.
Brooks won the 1957 British Grand Prix for Vanwall, in a car shared with Moss, and triumphed for Ferrari in France and Germany in 1959, the year he finished second overall behind Australian Jack Brabham.
He was also twice vice-champion in Monaco.
Only Argentinian Juan Manuel Fangio, Italian Alberto Ascari and Moss won more races than him in the 1950s.
“For six or seven years I raced and loved it,” he said. “But I never had the dedication of, say, Stirling. It was never going to be my life. Just part of it.”