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SEBRING: THIS IS MY LAST CHANCE
Tony Brooks
December 14, 1959
This weekend at Searing, for the first time in 43 years, a Grand Prix race will be held on American soil. The event will be doubly exciting as it will decide the world championship, closely contested by racing drivers Jack Brabham (Australian), Stirling Moss and the author (both British). Brooks, at 27, has been a leading Grand Prix driver since 1955. He is a dental surgeon who wonders about continuing his driving career now that he and his wife Pina have a new daughter. To take the 1959 title, he must win at Sebring. Here he discusses the strategy of the Big Three (opposite) in the run for top money.
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December 14, 1959

Sebring: This Is My Last Chance

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This weekend at Searing, for the first time in 43 years, a Grand Prix race will be held on American soil. The event will be doubly exciting as it will decide the world championship, closely contested by racing drivers Jack Brabham (Australian), Stirling Moss and the author (both British). Brooks, at 27, has been a leading Grand Prix driver since 1955. He is a dental surgeon who wonders about continuing his driving career now that he and his wife Pina have a new daughter. To take the 1959 title, he must win at Sebring. Here he discusses the strategy of the Big Three (opposite) in the run for top money.

The interest and attention of the whole world of motor racing will center on the American Grand Prix at Sebring, Fla. on December 12. It is of importance to the American racing fraternity because it is the first European-type Grand Prix motor race to be held in America since Vanderbilt Cup days; it also means much to the European enthusiast as it will decide who is to be the world champion driver for 1959.

For the world championship, the international governing body of motor sport (the FIA) nominates six or more events at the start of each racing season in which drivers may score points toward the championship. This year nine events were nominated from which a driver may count only his five best performances. The races counting for this year's championship are the Grands Prix of Monaco, Holland, France, Britain, Germany, Portugal and Italy, with the American race still to come. The 500-mile race at Indianapolis was also included, but the fact is that Indy does not conform to the Grand Prix racing car formula, which is for cars with un-supercharged engines not larger than 2� liters.

In the nominated events a driver receives points according to his final placings, but the race must last for two hours or cover more than 200 miles. First position carries eight points, second six points, third four, fourth three, fifth two, and the driver who makes the fastest lap during the race gets one point. The maximum score for a driver per race therefore is nine points.

Jack Brabham, who drives a Cooper car, is leading the championship with 31 points, but he is already counting five performances (the maximum) and in order to pick up points at Sebring must exceed his worst performance, a third place (four points). He has won two Grands Prix ( Monaco and Britain). Third place plus fastest lap would increase his score by one point.

Stirling Moss, driving a Cooper, privately entered by Rob Walker (also sponsoring Maurice Trintignant in a Cooper), is second with 25� (he shared fastest lap in one event) and he, too, is counting five performances. He has won two Grands Prix ( Portugal and Italy), his worst performances being only the fastest lap in two races, so he will have to deduct one of those points from any he may score at Sebring.

I am lying third ( Ferrari) with 23 points, having two Grand Prix wins ( France and Germany), one with the fastest lap, and a second place. I am counting three events as I have finished in only four races, scoring points in three of them. I can, therefore, add all the points that I may score at Sebring to my total of 23.

The point system is rather complicated but it must be understood if the significance of Sebring is to be fully appreciated. It will provide the key to the whole race, tactics, speeds and drivers' performances. It also explains why the team managers will look more like mathematicians, with their boards, slide rules and lists of permutations, than race directors.

One thing is certain: I must win the race to win the championship. A win would give me a further eight points, 31 in all, and equal to Brabham if he finished in no better than third position. Although I would finish with the same number of points as Brabham I would win the championship on the basis of having won three Grands Prix to Brabham's two. Moss, on the other hand, could win the championship if he finished second, providing he also made the fastest lap and Brabham finished no higher than third. Moss's position would be 25� (present total), plus six (second), plus one (fastest lap), minus one.

He would beat Brabham by half a point. He would also beat me by half a point, even if I won the race, so the importance of the fastest lap at Sebring becomes apparent. Should Brabham win the race, or finish second with the fastest lap, he would be unassailable world champion whatever Moss or myself did. The possibilities are many, but it is permissible to consider some of the tactics that may be employed by the three leading contenders for the title.

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