Eric Brandon, who grew up as a neighbour of John Cooper, was working in an electrical wholesaler immediately after World War II when the old friends collaborated to build the first Cooper 500cc Formula 3 prototype.
Formula 3 pioneer with Cooper
They started competing in hillclimbs and sprints during 1946 and Brandon was among the early pioneers of the 500cc F3 – winning the very first such race held in Britain at Gransden Lodge in July 1947. He was also the category’s first champion when he won the 1951 Autosport British F3 Championship. Brandon’s success was not confined to home soil for his Cooper-Norton also won at Madrid and the Nürburgring (a German Grand Prix support race) that year.
Grand Prix driver and team owner
He was also a team owner by then, having formed Ecurie Richmond with Jimmy Richmond. As well as racing in F3, they ran a pair of Formula 2 Cooper T20-Bristols. The World Championship was switched to F2 rules in 1952 and the team was suddenly a GP concern.
Brandon and team-mate Alan Brown started four championship races that year – finishing eighth and fifth respectively on their debuts in Switzerland. Brandon only entered selected non-championship races during 1953 with a works Cooper (finishing fourth at Syracuse). He made a fifth and final world championship start in the 1954 British GP but his Ecurie Richmond Cooper T23-Bristol retired after just two laps of Silverstone.
He continued to race in F3 and built his own sports car in 1955 – the Climax-powered Halseylec was named after the electrical company of which he was now the Managing Director. It proved to be a short-lived project that was abandoned in early 1956. Brandon was finished with motorsport but he later took up hydroplane racing.