British motorsport legend Tony Brooks, F1’s last surviving Grand Prix title winner from the 1950s, passed away at the age of 90. Nicknamed “The Racing Dentist”, Brooks was one of the greatest races in the history of Formula One.
Born as Charles Anthony Standish Brooks on February 25, 1932, in Dukinfield, Cheshire, Brooks began club racing in 1952, before joining the Aston Martin sports car team in 1954.
He won on his F1 debut in 1955, where he was a last-minute entry and took time off from studying for his dentistry examination. It was a remarkable feat, which earned him the title “The Racing Dentist”. He made his debut for British Racing Motors (BRM) in 1956 at the British Grand Prix. He drove for Vanwall in 1957 and registered his first world championship victory at the British Grand Prix at Aintree. With Vanwall, he delivered some of the most outstanding performances of his career.
In 1959, he joined Ferrari and won in France and Germany. He narrowly missed out on the title that year. He believes that his victory in Germany, passing the Ferrari’s of Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins, was his best drive. His last race was in 1961 at the United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen for BRM. He then left the sport and stepped into business.
Brooks had survived two major accidents during the initial stages of his career, but never gave up on his racing career. He won six Grand Prix titles from just 38 starts.
Apart from his exceptional career, Brooks’ personality was inspiring and admired by many. He was soft spoken and charming. He lacked the star quality of his fellow British racers.
Brooks can be called an unsung hero at a time when racing was a very dangerous sport. He pushed boundaries at a time of great risk.