DRIVERS: TONY BRISE
Name: Tony Brise
Nationality: Great Britain
Date of birth: March 28, 1952 - Dartford, Kent
Date of death: November 29, 1975 - Arkley, nr Barnet, Hertfordshire
The son of 500cc Formula 3 racer John Brise, Tony began kart racing at eight and was the British national kart champion of 1969, when he was 17. He then turned his attention to Formula Ford in 1970 racing an Elden which he then replaced with a Merlyn in 1971. He ended that year as runner-up in the BOC British FF1600 Championship. He moved up to Formula 3 in 1972 with a semi-works Brabham and in 1973 was a factory driver for GRD, replacing Roger Williamson, who had graduated to F1.
He won the John Player Championship, was the joint champion in the Lombard Championship and finished second in the Monaco GP Formula 3 race, an impressive job at his first attempt. At the end of the year he won a Grovewood Award but money proved to be hard to find and he ended up racing in Formula Atlantic in 1974 after failing to find a budget for Formula 2. Starting out as a privateer, he soon moved into the Modus works team.
He stayed with Modus in 1975, dominated the series and got his chance in F1 when Frank Williams needed a replacement for Jacques Laffite for the Spanish GP, the Frenchman having committed himself to racing F2 at the Nurburgring that weekend before doing a deal with FW. Brise was thus a Grand Prix debutant at the disastrous race at Montjuich Park, which ended when Rolf Stommelen's Hill flew over the barriers. He finished seventh. Soon afterwards Graham Hill decided to retire from driving and he hired Brise to replace him in the Hill team. In his first race for the team in Belgium Brise qualified seventh and followed up with a sixth-placed finish in Sweden and seventh in Holland and in France. It was an impressive start to an F1 career and Hill re-signed him for the 1976 season.
At the end of November, however, returning from a test at Paul Ricard, the team boss made a fatal mistake, deciding to fly through the fog to land at Elstree Aerodrome. Hill's twin-engined Piper Aztec hit a row of trees at Arkley Golf Club, on the approach to Elstree, and crashed into the ground. All on board were killed, including Tony Brise.