One of the Grand Prix winners of the 1950s died yesterday at the age of 90. Tony Brooks was the last surviving 50 GP winner after the death of Stirling Moss in 2020 and one of the sport’s pioneers.
Stirling Moss, who is considered the best Formula 1 driver who never became World Champion after four consecutive years in which he was runner-up and three third places, named Tony Brooks as “the most complete driver of my era”, even after in three of his four runner-ups he was beaten by Juan Manuel Fangio.
Brooks ran 38 Formula 1 races and finished second in the drivers’ world championship with Ferrari in 1959, falling 4 points behind Jack Brabham and winning the only Formula 1 Grand Prix at AVUS in Berlin in 1959. By 1958 he had already won third place with Vanwall.
Charles Anthony Standish Brooks was born in Cheshire in 1932. The son of a dental surgeon, he himself studied to become a dentist – and, as a result, became known as a “race dentist”, Brooks participated mainly in club races, before participating in a F2 race that took place in 1955 at the disappeared Crystal Palace track. He finished an impressive fourth – behind three F1 cars.
That year, he received the offer to drive a factory Aston Martin and did so with such good results that he was given the chance to participate in the Syracuse GP, one of the many F1 races that did not count for the World Championship, with a Connaught. Close to becoming a dentist he went to Sicily and became the first British driver to win a race in Europe since Sir Henry Seagrave, who had won the San Sebastian GP in 1924. Upon his return to Great Britain, he signed a contract with BRM, making his debut in Monaco in 1956. In 1957 he won his first race, in Aintree, and in the following two years, five more.
Stefano Domenicali, Executive Director of Formula 1, paid tribute to Brooks, stating that “I was part of a special group of drivers who were pioneers and pushed the limits at a time of great risk. We will miss him and our thoughts are with his family at this time.”
In six seasons in Formula 1, Brooks claimed six wins, 3 pole positions and 10 podiums. The death of Peter Collins and Stuart Lewis-Evans in 1958 made him question the risks of being a pilot and, in 1961, he abandoned the track to dedicate himself to the profession of dentist.
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