Johnny Brise won the world stockcar finals in 1956, ’59 and ’60, a feat unmatched at the time.The builder’s son had set himself up as a pig farmer, but his exploits at the wheel made him a big name.
In at the start of stockcar racing in the UK, he had a reputation as a stylish performer and innovator, forever seeking ways to improve his cars. He quit in ’61 and switched to another emergent sport, karting, and it was the natural thing to help his eldest son when his mind turned to competition.
“John just stopped all interest in himself and concentrated on Anthony” Pam Brise recalls. “He really enjoyed it. But what really made me cross was that he never interfered with the running of the karts or cars. I used to say to him,’You know what’s wrong, why don’t you tell them?’ And he’d say,’No, it’s nothing to do with me. It’s up to them:Very proud he was, in a lot of ways. It’s a Brise trait,’ think.” Johnny Brise
Johnny and Pam Brise went to most of their son’s grands prix in 1975. Before Tony left for the final test of the Hill GH2 at Paul Ricard, his father offered him some advice.”He’d been doing all sorts of things, having a wonderful time,” Pam says.”And John said to him,`You knowTony, you are going a bit mad. I think you ought to calm things down a bit And he smiled and said,’I know Dad, but isn’t life great.’
“Then he never came back But those few words sustained us tremendously. A lot of my friends said he did more in his short life than many do in a full lifetime.
“I think we could have accepted it better if he had died in a racing accident. The way it happened was so stupid and avoidable.You always think these things to yourself when they happen to you in life. It was a long time before I could justify in my mind what happened to him. But I could never understand why such an accident had to happen to such nice people:’
Johnny Brise never recovered from his eldest son’s death.”John never pushed Tony, but I’m sure everything he ever wanted to do came out in Tony:’ Pam says.”After Tony’s accident, I think John’s cancer began to set in. He was such a fighter, such a stubborn man, but he just wasn’t fighting any more:’
Five years after the events at Arkley, the accident claimed another victim when Johnny Brise succumbed to his illness.