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A pilot in the Royal Air Force during World War II, Tony Crook was an enthusiastic national racing driver as soon as enough suitable circuits were found in post-war Britain. He bought a BMW 328 from his business partner Raymond Mays and he won at Cambridgeshire’s Gransden Lodge airfield circuit in 1946 – the first post-war race held on the British mainland.
Crook also acquired Hugh Hunter’s Alfa Romeo 8C-2900B and he drove a Formula 2 Ferrari 166C at Blandford in 1949 – retiring from the final. Now a Surrey-based garage owner, Crook switched to Frazer Nash from 1950 and this led to a brief entry into Grand Prix racing.
Grand Prix driver
With F2 rules adopted for the 1952 World Championship, Crook finished 17th in Silverstone’s non-championship International Trophy before entering the 1952 British GP with a Frazer Nash 421-BMW. 25th on the grid, he ran towards the back to finish in 21st position. Crook also finished third in the GP supporting Prix de Monte Carlo that year – his best result on the Continent.
Armed with a Cooper T24-Alta for 1953 (the car resplendent in his preferred maroon livery) Crook won a minor Midlands MECC-organised F2 race at Silverstone. He lined up for that year’s British GP in 25th position once more but retired on the opening lap.
He continued in national events and enjoyed a keen rivalry with the likes of Roy Salvadori. But he was injured during the 1955 Goodwood Nine Hours after spinning on oil at Woodcote during the night. His Cooper-Bristol was hit by the following Porsche 550 of Stirling Moss. Crook spent the following fortnight in hospital and he decided to stop racing.
Crook worked in the motor industry and bought Bristol Cars in 1960 from the aircraft manufacturer of the same name. He remained at the helm of the company for the rest of the century – a late bastion of the British car industry producing low numbers of luxury vehicles. Crook eventually sold his shares in Bristol and retired in 2001.