Tony Brise (1952-1975) was a British racer who recorded ten starts in the Formula 1 World Championship in 1975, driving for Williams and Embassy Hill. He died at the age 23 in an airplane crash together with Graham Hill and four more team members.
Born in a family of racing driver
Anthony Williams 'Tony' Brise was born in March 1945 in Erith, Kent, in a family of John Brise, who was also a racing driver. Tony and his brother Tim were driving go-karts as teenagers. Tony reached a peak of his karting career in 1969, winning the UK championship. After that, he moved to car racing.
His first competition was the Formula Ford in 1970. In 1971, he finished second in the British Formula Ford and then progressed to Formula 3.
Driving for Bernie Ecclestone's team
In that time, there were several regional Formula 3 competitions in the UK and Brise was racing in all of them. He finished second in the F3 Britain Lombard North Central championship, fourth in the BARC championship and sixth in the BRSCC championship.
At the start of the season, he was driving a Brabham BT38 (Cosworth) for the team run by Bernie Ecclestone but later switched to a GRD 372 (Cosworth).
Tony Brise had a championship-winning potential
Double Formula 3 champion in 1973
In 1973, Brise was the best Formula 3 driver in the country, winning two of three British Formula 3 Championships. In the F3 Lombard North Central Championship, he was sharing the first place with Richard Robarts.
In the John Player BRSCC Championship, Brise took the title with a 2-point advantage over future F1 champion Alan Jones. In the BARC Forward Trust F3 Championship, Brise lost a title to Ian Taylor. At the end of the season, Brise won the Grovewood Award for the second time.
British Formula Atlantic champion in 1975
In 1974, Brise had no funds to move up to Formula 2 so entered the British Formula Atlantic Series with self-build March 733-Ford. He won the first round but crashed out in the next race at Snetterton. However, his performance brought him a place in the Modus team. He won two more races until the end of the season and finished third in the points.
In 1975, he scored six wins in a Modus M3-Ford and take the championship title in the John Player British Formula Atlantic Series. He was also successful in the MDA/Southern Organs Formula Atlantic Championship, winning three times to finish third in the points. Brise was also driving a Modus M1 F3 car in the Monaco Grand Prix support race, finishing second behind Tom Pryce.
Tony Brise made a Formula 1 debut in 1975
Formula One debut with Frank Williams
Excellent results in ladder series brought him an attention of Frank Williams, who invited Brise to drive for him in April at Spanish Grand Prix, the fourth round of the 1975 Formula 1 World Championship. Brise came as a replacement for Jacques Laffite.
Driving the #21 Williams FW04-Cosworth, Brise finished seventh at Montjuic Circuit, two laps behind race winner Jochen Mass (McLaren). The race was stopped after 29 laps because of a fatal accident in which five spectators were killed.
Tony Brise and Graham Hill
Nine F1 starts with Embassy Hill
Laffite returned to the team for Monaco Grand Prix, so Brise lost a seat. However, he returned soon to Formula One grid as a replacement for Graham Hill, who retired from racing after five rounds to focus on managing a team. Brise had a debut with Embassy Hill in the Belgian Grand Prix in May. He was driving the #23 GH1-Cosworth at Zolder for 17 laps, retiring with engine failure.
In the next race, the Swedish Grand Prix at Anderstorp, Brise finished sixth and scored his maiden championship point. He would do better if gearbox wasn't stuck in fourth gear. In the remainder of the season, Brise finished seventh in Netherlands and France. Until the end of the season, he scored no more points, finishing 19th in the final standings.
Tony Brise and Graham Hill died together in a plane crash
Death in a plane crash
Graham Hill decided to retain Tony Brise in his team for the 1976 Formula 1 season. In late November 1975, they tested a new GH2 race car in southern France.
On November 29, Hill and Brise were flying home together with four other team members. Hill was piloting team's plane, the twin-engine six-seat Piper Aztec. During a night, they crashed at Arkley golf course. Nobody survived.