The man who scored Cooper’s first World Championship points and gave the first Vanwall its race debut has died.
Alan Brown made his name in the 500cc Formula Three of the early 1950s. Shrewd and charming, he was a businessman as well as a driver and brought a new level of professionalism to this branch of the sport.
Ecurie Richmond, which Brown ran with Jimmy Richmond, was well organised and had great success with Alan and Eric Brandon as its drivers: Brown won Iwo F3 titles in 1951.
The subsequent prize and appearance money gave the team the chance to expand and field a pair of works-blessed Formula Two Cooper-Bristols in grands prix the next year. A fifth place for Brown in the Swiss GP at Bremgarten his world championship debutbrought those first Cooper points. He also finished sixth in the following Belgian GP, a performance for which there was no official reward in those days.
Mike Hawthorn’s outstanding performances in a third Cooper-Bristol tended to overshadow Brown’s efforts, and the promise of 1950-51 was never really fulfilled. He still achieved considerable success, though, particularly in sportscars. And he was in great demand as a test driver – which was how the invitation to give the Vanwall its debut came about: he was holding fifth in the 1954 International Trophy when an oil pipe burst.
Brown retired from driving in 1956, but stayed in the trade, working with the likes of John Coombs, Ken Tyrrell and Rodney Clarke, founder of Connaught. He became MD of Connaught Cars and did a deal with Paul Emery to produce his Emerysons. Later he ran Ford saloons for Jim Clark, Dan Gurney and Jack Brabham, eventually becoming disillusioned when offered a bung for Brabham to throw a race in his Mustang.
Brown remained an enthusiastic member of the BRDC until his death, aged 84. NP