- February 03, 1920
- July 29, 2013
- Not Active
Tony Gaze (1920-2013) was an Australian fighter pilot and war hero who became a race car driver after World War II, participating both in open-wheel and sports car competitions.
He recorded four participations in the Formula 1 World Championship, driving his own HWM-Alta in 1952 and becoming the first Australian in the championship. In 1953, he was a member of the first ever Australian crew at the famous Rallye Monte-Carlo. Gaze ended a racing career in 1956.
Serving with Royal Air Force in the World War II
Born in February 1920 in Melbourne, Frederick Anthony Owen Gaze joined the Royal Air Force in 1940 and served until the end of the war.
He was Australia's tenth ranking highest ace with 12.5 confirmed air victories in almost five hundred combat missions in a Spitfire aircrafts and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross three times. His brother Scott Gaze also was flying with RAF but was killed in action in March 1941.
The Goodwood Circuit was Gaze's idea
After the war, Gaze stayed shortly in the UK and met Frederick Gordon-Lennox, the 9th Duke of Richmond, better known as Freddie March. He was an owner of the land where RAF Westhampnett base was located.
Gaze suggested Freddie March that the roads around RAF station would be a good location for a racing track. After that, March opened the Goodwood Circuit in 1948.
Gaze started a racing career in 1948
Gaze returned to Australia and started his racing career in 1948, recording participation at Australian Grand Prix which took place in January at the Point Cook Aerodrome. He was driving an Alta F2 car which he brought with him from England.
Gaze raced with Alta F2 car until 1951, returning to Europe and planning to race with HWM-Alta F2 car in 1952 season. However, the regulations for the Formula 1 World Championship had been changed that year and F2 cars took over the F1 championship, so Gaze had a chance to compete in the world's major open-wheel championship.
Three starts, one DNQ in the 1952 Formula One season
Gaze made a debut in the F1 World Championship in June 1952, driving the #42 HWM-Alta in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa and becoming the first Australian to race in the F1 World Championship. He was 16th qualifier among twenty-two drivers and finished the race in 15th place, six laps behind the winner Alberto Ascari (Ferrari).
Gaze's next race was the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in July. At the wheel of the #28 HWM-Alta, he started 26th and retired after 19 laps with a broken engine. In August, he went to Nürburgring Nordschleife to compete in the German Grand Prix. His #120 car lasted for six laps in the race before the gearbox was broken.
Gaze's fourth and the last attempt in the F1 Championship followed at Monza in September but he failed to qualify for the Italian Grand Prix.
The first Australian at Rallye Monte-Carlo
In January 1953, Tony Gaze was a member of the first ever Australian crew at the famous Rallye Monte Carlo. He was sharing a Holden FX with Lex Davison and Stan Jones. At one point, they were in the top ten but finished the rally in 64th place.
Later that year, Gaze raced an Aston Martin DB3 in sports car events across Europe, including some endurance races such were Hyeres 12 Hours or Pescara 12 Hours. At Portugal Grand Prix, he survived a heavy accident when his car struck a tree and burst into flames.
Racing all over the world in 1954
In 1954, Gaze had a wide schedule of races both in Europe and down under, in Australia and New Zealand. He raced HWM-Alta in open-wheel races and HWM-Jaguar in sports car races.
He finished second at Lady Wigram Trophy, third at New Zealand Grand Prix, fourth at Aintree International and seventh at Reims 12 Hours. His only victory was in the National Crystal Palace sports car race.
Establishing Kangaroo Stable in 1955
In 1955, Gaze's most notable result in open-wheel racing was the third place at New Zealand Grand Prix, at the wheel of ex-Ascari Ferrari 500. After returning to England, he founded the Kangaroo Stable, the first Australian international racing team, and raced in an Aston Martin DB3S.
He finished second at Hyeres 12 Hours, sharing a car with David McKay. They also raced together at Goodwood 9 Hours, not finishing the race.
Le Mans debut in the last season of racing
Gaze's last season in racing was 1956. He opened a season with two good results in New Zealand, finishing second at Lady Wigram Trophy and second at New Zealand Grand Prix, driving a Ferrari 500 in both races.
He also scored few good results with HWM-Jaguar in sports car races and then, in July 1956, he made a debut at 24 Hours of Le Mans. He joined Frazer Nash factory team to share the #23 Frazer Nash Sebring with Dickie Stoop. They were in the race for 101 laps, retiring after an accident.
Representing Australia in the World Gliding Championship
Tony Gaze closed his racing career in 1956, accepting a new challenge shortly after that. The fellow racer Prince Bira, who was also active in gliding competitions, persuaded Gaze to try a new sport. Gaze became an active member of gliding clubs and represented Australia at 1960 World Gliding Championship that took place in Germany.
In private life, Gaze was married twice. His second wife was Diana Davison (died in 2012), the widow of the Australian racer Lex Davison.