Obituary: Tony Brooks (1932 – 2022)

Thursday 05 May 2022

Motorsport UK is deeply saddened by the passing of Tony Brooks, one of Formula 1’s pioneers, at the age of 90.  

Brooks was an early trailblazer of the Formula 1 World Championship, taking six Grand Prix victories across 39 entries between 1956 and 1961. He finished a career-best second to Jack Brabham in 1959 whilst driving for Ferrari, and also represented iconic brands such as BRM and Vanwall during his career. 

“Tony Brooks is a legend and an icon in the history of British motorsport. He pushed the boundaries of motorsport in a high-risk era and was a true pioneer,” said David Richards CBE, Chair of Motorsport UK on Brooks’ passing. 

“His success on the track, including triumphs at iconic tracks such as Monza, Nürburgring and Spa will see his legend live on.     

“He will be deeply missed and on behalf of Motorsport UK, our thoughts are with his friends and family.”   

Born on 25 February 1932 in Dukinfield, Cheshire, Brooks was nicknamed the ‘Racing Dentist’ after both his father Charles, a dental surgeon, and his studying of the practice.  

He rose to prominence at the non-championship Syracuse Grand Prix in 1955 when, having raced sportscars for Connaught earlier in the year, he was given a call by the British manufacturer to represent them, and duly won the race, the first international Grand Prix win for a British car in over 30 years at the time. 

In an era where mechanical reliability was less assured than it is today, a frustrating 1956 spent with BRM yielded a non-start and a retirement from Brooks’ two entries, but a move to Vanwall for 1957 was rewarded with his first podium on the streets of Monte-Carlo, then his first win at the British Grand Prix in Aintree. 

The next two seasons would be his most successful in the sport, first finishing third behind compatriots Mike Hawthorn in Sir Stirling Moss in 1958, before that run to second behind Moss with Ferrari in 1959. 

He signed off his career with a podium at the inaugural United States Grand Prix held at Watkins Glen in 1961, retiring aged just 29 years old to focus on family life and the growth of his garage business back home. 

Following the death of Sir Stirling Moss in 2020, Brooks was the last surviving Grand Prix winner from the 1950s.