Tony Brooks has died at the ago of 90. Here he is with the winner’s garlands after his victory with a Vanwall in the 1958 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps. Brooks that year was teamed with Stirling Moss and Stuart Lewis-Evans in the Vanwall team, but as the definite Number Two as Moss had choice of the car, the engine and anything else he wanted. Even under these requirements, Brooks won the same number of races as Moss and was in close competition for the Championship with both Moss and eventual Champion Mike Hawthorn.
Brooks was the last living Formula 1 winner from the dangerous 1950s. He made a great success by winning his first F1 race, a 1955 non-Championship event at Syracusa in Sicily, having never even sat in a Connaught before and having never seen the circuit. He qualified on the front row and won by some 50 seconds from the Maserati 250Fs of Luigi Villoresi and Luigi Musso.
After his Vanwall experience, Brooks joined Phil Hill, DanGurney, Cliff Allison, Jean Behra and Wolfgang von Trips on the Ferrari F1 team during 1959. Here is Brooks in his Ferrari 246F1 before going out for practice at Monaco where he would finish second to Jack Brabham. His 1959 season could have achieved a possible Championship win had he won the final race at Sebring. But on the first lap his Ferrari was hit by the Ferrari of a a late-braking Trips. Brooks’ car was not damaged but, having experienced two major accidents in the past caused by mechanical failures, he stopped at the pits to have his Ferrari inspected and could only climb back to third place at the finish. As the result he would be second to Brabham in the 1959 standings.
Brooks retired at the end of the 1961 season which he had spent in the difficult atmosphere at BRM. Moss was once asked whom he would want in his own fantasy F1 team. His two top choices were Tony Brooks and Jim Clark.
Photos by Yves Debraine and Robert Daley ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com
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