Tony Brooks

2021-03-25 23:00

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Tony Brooks

Charles Anthony Standish Brooks was born in Dukinfield on February 25, 1932. Together with Stirling Moss, the British driver is considered one of the


Charles Anthony Standish Brooks was born in Dukinfield on February 25, 1932. Together with Stirling Moss, the British driver is considered one of the best drivers to never have managed to win a world title, despite having had, in 1959, the best chance of his career, driving for Ferrari, coming second in the standings. Initially, Tony follows in his father's footsteps by studying dentistry, and in his spare time he devotes himself to a passion for cars. The British driver made his debut in motor racing in 1952, at the age of twenty, attending mostly local sporting events until 1955, when he was offered the chance to make his debut in a Formula 2 Connaught at the Crystal Palace, finishing fourth at the finish.


At the same time, the adventure continues aboard cars supplied by Aston Martin. Despite the preparation for university exams, the good performances obtained give Tony the opportunity to make his debut at the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Syracuse, not valid for the world championship race. Aboard a Connaught, Tony Brooks had a superb race, crossing the line first and becoming the first British driver since 1924 to win a race outside the UK. This result attracts the attention of various Formula 1 teams, in particular B.R.M., with which he signs a contract for the 1956 season, officially making his Formula 1 debut at the Monaco Grand Prix.


The debut was not easy, and at times, very unfortunate. In fact, the Englishman in the principality's race fails to take off, while in the next round in Great Britain he fractures his jaw following an accident caused by the accelerator block on his car. Meanwhile, Tony continues his covered-wheel adventure with the Aston Martin. Passing to Vanwall in 1957, the Englishman conquers his first victory in a race valid for the Formula 1 World Championship shared with Stirling Moss in 1957, in Aintree, Great Britain, and in the same year he wins a good second place in the Principality of Monaco.


In 1958, again with the English Vanwall team, Tony Brooks won three wins in Belgium, Italy and Germany, finishing the season in third place with 24 points. At the end of the championship, however, the Vanwall team, the reigning Constructors' Champion, officially withdraws from the World Championship due to the health conditions of the owner Tony Vandervell, also strongly tested by the death of the young Lewis-Evans at the end of 1958.


Tony Brooks leaves the team, but thanks to the results obtained, in 1959 comes the great opportunity for the British driver, who passes to the court of Enzo Ferrari and, for the first time, finds himself racing with a car born outside the earth English. With the Italian team, Tony Brooks manages to establish himself in the French Grand Prix in Reims and in the German Grand Prix at the AVUS circuit, while the British driver comes third in the States and second in the Principality of Monaco, and in the same year, he also races with the Maranello team in sports races, winning only two third places at the 1000 Km of the Nurburgring and at the Tourist Trophy paired with Jean Behra, aboard the Ferrari 250 TR. On the eve of the first Grand Prix of the Formula 1 World Championship in 1959, it is legitimate to believe in a victory for Ferrari, just as Stirling Moss has the role of great lookout among the drivers of the English cars. In reality, up to the eightieth of the expected hundred laps, the precisions seem, for once, to be realized.


At the start, a group of three cars immediately formed: the Ferrari of Behra in the lead and the Cooper of Moss and Brabham to follow in the space of thirty meters. All the others soon away, lost in the greyness and disinterest of the huge crowd crowded around the circuit. Behra leads with confidence, defying the attacks of Moss, who as we know does not tolerate seeing the queue of other cars in front of him. So up to the eleventh lap, when the engine of Behra's Ferrari breaks down and the Frenchman stops in the pits, while under the belly of the now silent red racing car an oil stain spreads due to a connecting rod coming out. With Behra out of the scene, Moss, with a great champion's stretch, frees himself from the tenacious wheel of his companion, giving the impression of heading towards a victory. The Ferrari team, on the other hand, appears to be in full crisis, with Hill fifty seconds behind Moss and Brooks over a minute.


Everyone would have sworn that the race was now largely decided, even if Brooks, up to this moment strangely apathetic, wakes up and sets off on the hunt for Brabham, providing a point of interest in the monotony into which the race has fallen. Among other things, the Australian driver scores the best lap time, which is equivalent to one more point in the world rankings: Moss, who up to now holds him, warned by his men, successfully tries to take him back to the eightieth I turn around, but the effort is exile for his car, which immediately gives way. Brabham took the lead, and Brooks was only ten seconds close in the meantime. Spurred on by his pits, the Ferrari driver pushes the pace. But the Australian responds like a champion by setting the absolute best time on lap 83 and a new official record of the Monegasque circuit. The gap between the two slowly starts to rise up to the hundredth and last lap.


Brabham, immediately after arrival, goes to the grandstand to receive the cup and congratulations from the Prince and Princess of Monaco. Followed by the English anthem (obviously no one had thought of getting the record from the Australian one) and endless applause. At Ferrari, however, the faces are long: "if Brooks had woken up earlier...", they say.


Surprisingly, after skipping the US round in Indianapolis, Bonnier's B.R.M. won in the following Dutch Grand Prix, after the British Stirling Moss, despite giving up all the resources of his class, was forced to retire due to a mechanical failure. The public welcomes with deep disappointment the news of the exit of Moss, who, in addition to having won the Dutch Grand Prix last year, also held the lap speed record for the Zandvoort circuit. The victory of the Swede amazed a large part of the spectators of the race, above all because Joakim Bonnier, so far, had not yet grasped such an important statement as that of a Grand Prix valid for the Drivers' World Championship, as well as the British car B.R.M., in turn, she had never managed to establish herself in a titled race. On the hard circuit of Zandvoort, Tony Brooks was also forced to retire on lap 42, due to an oil leak.


The British driver will make a comeback in the following French and European Grand Prix, fourth round of the world championship, winning splendidly. The likeable and very correct driver makes an exemplary race, dominating from the first kilometers. Starting in the lead, on the Reims Brooks circuit he progressively crumbles the resistance of his opponents until he accumulates a margin of advantage so substantial as to dampen any residual will of those who had tried to oppose his action. Ferrari's great achievement was completed by Phil Hill's second place, and Olivier Gendehien's fourth. And perhaps Ferrari's victory would have been even more complete without the retirement of Behra, who, having started late, had made a spectacular chase until reaching second position for a moment, but paying for the excessive impetus with an engine failure.


From the first lap, Brooks and Moss are in front of everyone, glued wheel to wheel at 250 km / h; subsequently, up to the fifteenth lap, although firmly in the lead, Brooks is threatened by the pair Trintignant-Brabham, then he leaves irresistibly, gaining even four seconds per lap on his pursuers. Tony Brooks' arrival is triumphant: "it was time", say the Ferrari mechanics, mad with joy at the end of the Grand Prix. In Aintree, Great Britain, in the fifth round of the world championship, Brabham, after having escaped an accident in a sports car, wins the race, thus increasing his advantage in the world drivers' classification. Tony Brooks is instead forced to race with a Vanwall, due to the non-participation of Ferrari for the national metalworkers' strike, and retires on lap 13, therefore unable to increase his points tally. The British driver, back behind the wheel of a Ferrari, wins the German Grand Prix, raced on the AVUS motorway in Berlin, in front of a crowd of about two hundred thousand people. The triumph of the Ferraris is completed by the second place of Dan Gurney and the third of Phil Hill.


The supremacy of the Ferraris is clear: Tony Brooks, who found himself perfectly at ease in the raised corners of the Berlin track, is always in command of the two heats, both held at a distance of 249 km/h. Before the start of the race, in homage to the memory of the French Jean Behra, who tragically died in the tests on Saturday, a minute of silence is observed; Minister Lammer, who should have attended the race, renounces it as a sign of mourning. Competitors complete three training laps waiting for the rain to stop falling and the track to dry. Then, at 14:00, the mossiere starts the fifteen cars registered for the race. Tony Brooks takes the lead and at the end of the first lap he precedes his opponents by several meters. Already after three laps, the Ferraris have practically guaranteed victory, being forced to retire Moss and Brabham. Six laps from the end of the first heat, Gregory, who evidently forced his Cooper, gives way so that Gurney and Hill can join team mate Brooks. After a break of one hour the second heat is given the start. Given the overwhelming superiority of the Ferraris, which from the first lap march in the lead, the race acquires a very monotonous aspect. After an hour and six minutes straight into the race, Tony Brooks victoriously crosses the finish line followed at a very short distance by his teammates Hill and Gurney.


After this statement, Tony Brooks climbs to 23 points and follows Jack Brabham, who stands at 27 points. The challenge between the two title contenders, three races from the end of the championship, continues in Portugal, where however it is the British driver Stirling Moss who dominates and triumphs, fully confirming the predictions of the eve. The race, penultimate for the purposes of the world championship, takes place on the Monsanto circuit, a somewhat varied track in terms of curves and altimetry, which winds along the peripheral road network of Lisbon. The start takes place at 5:00 pm, at a time when the sun is already too low and hits the drivers in the eyes, especially at some dangerous corners. On the other hand, a strong wind blows along the straight, taken from the Lisbon-Estoril motorway.


The first of the two contenders, Jack Brabham, sees the opportunity to definitively consolidate his position in the drivers' classification vanish because, as told by the American driver Masten Gregory, on the twenty-third lap Brabham tried to overtake Mclaren, but in order to avoid contact with the opponent's Cooper, the Aussie moved a little too far to the left, hitting the straw bales and skidding. Subsequently, the driver was unable to regain the track and ended up off the track, overturning after knocking down the pole of a lamppost. Immediately taken to hospital, the Australian emerged an hour later, blindfolded and bandaged but happy to have gotten away with so little, just in time to see Stirling Moss arrive victorious. Tony Brooks does not take advantage of it, who in this circumstance does not shine for excessive combativeness; on the eve it was hoped that the fickle British driver would meet his good day, but unfortunately this did not happen, and he finished the race in the ninth post five laps from the tread.


Stirling Moss, at the wheel of the British Cooper, wins the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. The success of the British driver is practically unchallenged, largely thanks to his very high class, but also largely due to the intervention of a factor that is half expected, half unexpected, namely the tires. After the weekend official tests, concerns about tire wear had emerged, so much so that, based on the tread wear found, it was assumed that at least the rear wheels would be changed halfway through the race. It was said, and the English teams from across the Channel present at Monza had gladly let him believe, that no car could withstand the pace of 200 km/h without changing tires. Instead, only the Ferraris are found to be forced to stop in the pits, while neither the Cooper, nor the B.R.M., nor the Aston Martins encounter such problems, despite the fact that all the cars in the race were identical in terms of make and sizes. mounted tires; the technical reasons for the different behavior are to be found not only in the greater weight of the Ferraris, but also in the characteristics of their suspension.


In the initial part of the Grand Prix, and thus up to halfway through the race, the fight develops between the two Ferrari drivers, Hill and Gurney, and Stirling Moss, who immediately formed a leading group never threatened by others, as Tony Brooks, who with Moss was the favorite of the eve, the clutch burns at the start and after not even a kilometer of racing is forced to stop. Brabham, initially glued to the three in command, then lets them go, setting his tactics on the mirage of the world title, which Brooks' arrest translates into happy reality. Then, after about 180 kilometers of very tense running, during which Hill set the best lap time and a new absolute record of the Monza road circuit, Hill himself, Gurney, Allison and Gendebien stopped, one lap after another, to whose cars the mechanics replace either the rear tires, almost reduced to the canvas, or even all four.


Moss is left alone to lead, with about fifty seconds ahead of Hill, about a minute over Brabham and seventy seconds over Gurney. On the track, the workers wait for the Cooper to stop, but time passes and the drivers of the English cars continue unperturbed. Moss completes the last two hundred kilometers driving on velvet, towards the great victory. The world ranking, after the dispute of the United States Grand Prix is confirmed, on December 12, 1959, in Sebring, sees Brabham firmly, and someone begins to say definitively, installed in the lead with 31 points, followed by Moss who rose to 24, and Brooks, stopped at 23.


On Saturday December 12, 1959, the Sebring, Florida circuit hosts a Formula 1 Grand Prix for the first time. Brabham, Moss and Brooks compete for the world championship crown, while Ferrari and Cooper compete for the constructors' title. Given the particular characteristics of this track, whose lap averages are around 160 km/h, the cars must have great stability, excellent braking and a very elastic engine, especially at low and medium revs.


These characteristics are typical of British cars, compared to Italian ones. In this race, Ferrari brings four cars, entrusted to Brooks, Allison, Hill and von Trips, while Cooepr brings two cars for Brabham and McLaren, and Walker brings as many cars for Moss and Trintignant. Qualifying, which sees the British cars as the favourites, as expected show the competitiveness of the Cooper-Climax in this particular track, which conquers the entire front row with Moss, Brabham and Schell, while in second the Ferrari of Brooks and the other Cooper-Climax from Trintignant.


The next day, in front of 20.000 spectators, the last race of the 1959 Formula 1 World Championship is kicked off. Moss takes the lead, followed by Brabham and McLaren; Brooks also sprints well, but on the first lap he is the victim of an off track that forces him to the pits for a check. In the first laps, Moss gains two seconds on the lap over Brabham, his closest rival, but on the sixth lap he is forced to retire due to the transmission malfunction.


Brabham took the lead, closely followed by McLaren, while Brooks tried to recover ground from the rear, reaching fourth place. When the championship now seems to end in favor of Brabham, the Australian's Cooper-Climax gets underway on the last lap, in view of the finish line, with the race director ready to end the race with the lowering of the checkered flag stopped due to lack of petrol. McLaren takes the lead, followed by Trintignant, and wins.


Immediately, Brabham pushes his car to the finish, struggling to take fourth place behind Tony Brooks, five minutes after McLaren finished the lifeless race (the New Zealand driver will in fact be pulled out of the car and, after the award ceremony, taken to the hotel) and became World Champion for the first time, while Moss and Brooks will remain in history as drivers of great ability, but never able to win the Formula 1 World Championship. Tony Brooks ends the championship in second place with 27 points, just 4 points behind World Champion Jack Brabham.


At the end of 1959, after only one season, Tony Brooks concludes his adventure in Formula 1 with Ferrari and returns to the services of the English teams in the following two years, driving the Cooper and B.R.M. of the Yeoman Credit team. On board these cars, however, he is unable to repeat the excellent performances gained in previous years, collecting many fourth and fifth places, but never a victory.


Net of these performances, and aware of the greater successes achieved in covered wheels, Tony officially retired from Formula 1 at the end of the 1961 United States Grand Prix, a race in which he finished in third place aboard a B.R.M. P48. The career of an excellent driver comes to an end, capable of running thirty-nine Grand Prix and obtaining six victories, four podiums and a total of 75 points in Formula 1, in the meantime conquering fourteen victories in the covered wheels.


Andrea Rasponi

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