Tony Brooks, the last surviving Formula 1 grand prix race winner from the 1950s, has died at the age of 90, his family announced.
Known as the “racing dentist” after giving up his family’s profession for racing, his exploits in club racing caught the attention of the Connaught team, which offered him a last-minute drive for the non-championship 1955 Syracuse Grand Prix. He duly won, making Brooks the first British driver to win a modern F1 event in a British car.
He contested his first full F1 world championship season in 1957 with Vanwall, where he was paired with compatriot Stirling Moss. After Moss’s Vanwall VW5 developed a misfire during that year’s British GP at Aintree, the pair shared Brooks’s car for the remainder of the race – and won, giving them the joint honors of being the first British drivers to win a world championship race in a British car. (They were also the third, and last, pair of drivers ever to share an F1 win).
Aintree ’57 was far from the last time that Brooks had to show deference to Moss’s number one status within the team, yet his results stacked up respectably against his teammate’s – in 1958, he scored three wins to Moss’s four, and finished immediately behind Moss in the championship with third.
A move to Ferrari in 1959 brought an additional two wins and he entered the final round at Sebring with a shot at the title, but was eliminated on the opening lap after his car was hit by that of teammate Wolfgang von Trips. However, Brooks was not as comfortable in the rear-engined cars that were taking over the sport, leading to his retirement in 1961 when he was just 29.
Brooks was also an accomplished sports car racer, winning both the 1957 Nurburgring 1000 km and the 1958 RAC Tourist Trophy while sharing an Aston Martin DBR1 with Moss.