All of our bikes include details that hark back to the famous moments of the Cooper brand. Whether it be the names of our bikes or the details such as chequered flag badges, we are a bicycle brand looking forward but with a great appreciation of our past. In this post we look at the story behind the first Cooper World Championship victory in 1959.
The Floridian circuit of Sebring has only ever hosted one Formula 1 Grand Prix. That race in 1959 was a special one for Cooper - not only for the victory by Bruce McLaren in a Cooper T51 but it was the race where Jack Brabham clenched the Driver’s and Constructor’s Championship for the Works Cooper team.
Coming into the final race of the 1959 season, Coopers were well placed - with Jack Brabham sitting in the Championship lead on 31 points and Stirling Moss, in a Rob Walker Cooper, placed in 3rd on 25.5 points (yes they had half points back then). The Championship was going down to the wire with the possibility of three drivers being able to win - Tony Brooks being the other driver racing for the Ferrari team in his front engined Ferrari Dino 246. The whole season the Coopers had taken the established teams, like Ferrari, by surprise in their smaller, more agile, rear-engined ‘funny’ cars.
In qualifying, pole was taken by Moss. Whilst 3rd on the grid was taken controversially by the American Harry Schnell after he hid the fact he had secretly cut across the track under MG Bridge missing out a major chunk of the circuit.
The race ended up being dominated by Coopers. First with Moss taking a strong lead out until he had to retire after 5 laps and then the Cooper Works team with youngster Bruce McLaren and Jack Brabham. It looked like both the Constructor’s and the Driver’s Championship were going to be Cooper’s until the last lap when Jack Brabham ran out of fuel only 2 corners from the finish. Needing to finish above Brooks, with Moss out of the race, Brabham got out of his car and managed to push his way to victory in perhaps one of the most bizarre conclusions to a World Championship. With that victory, Brabham and the Cooper team changed the face of motor racing, and then started the rear-engined revolution in the golden age of racing.