Tony Dean raced almost everything from karts to touring-cars and sportscar as an independent entrant, against the might of the factory teams in the World Sportscar Championship, in Formula 5000 and in Can-Am series.
Born and bred in Leeds, Anthony Gordon Dean was a racing driver whose career spanned five decades. Tony was very successful in kart racing and, in 1963, when the garage where he worked acquired a Lotus Eleven, it was suggested by the owner that he should try racing it.
His first race was at a Northern BRSCC meeting at Rufforth. Tony qualified on pole and in the race crossed the line 2nd overall. Tony continued to race the car in 1964 at Brands Hatch, Cadwell Park, Croft, Mallory Park, Oulton Park and Rufforth. At the end of the year he sold it to Ben Moore from Hull.
In 1965, at the age of 33, Tony switched to single seaters and promptly won the BRSCC British Formula 3 title driving a Brabham BT15 Ford. He also entered the prestigious F3 support race at the Monaco Grand Prix. He qualified 3rd for his heat and finished 2nd. Then in the final drove well to finish on the podium in third place behind the winner Peter Revson and Chris Irwin in second.
He drove a Brabham BT8 Climax in 1966 and finished 3rd in the Wills Trophy, setting the fastest lap on the way. He also drove it in the Bob Gerard Formule Libre Championship ending up in 6th place in the final standing. He drove the John Willment Lotus 41 in a number of rounds of the Les Leston F3 Championship in 1966 though a crash in the second round at Mallory Park meant thatt he had to revert back to the Brabham BT18 for a couple of races. He was back in the Lotus for round 4 at Mallory in April where he finished 8th. It was not until late June that he next raced F3 ranks, finishing 4th in round 10 again at Mallory Park. He also had an outing in the Formula Libre race at the BRSCC North-Western Centre meeting at Oulton Park in late July, driving a BRM with a 4.7 Litre Ford Cobra V8 to finish third.
He then made the switch to sportscar racing entering under the A.G. Dean Racing Ltd. banner. In 1967 he shared a Porsche 906 with Ben Pon in the BOAC 500 at Brands Hatch, finishing 8th overall and taking a class win. Later in the year he came 2nd in the Rhodesian Grand Prix at Kumalo and 3rd in the South Eastern Meeting at Cape Town. He was due to drive a Porsche 906 in the Daytona 24 Hour race with Trevor Taylor but they failed to make the start after valve problems.
In 1968 he acquired a Ferrari Dino 206S (004) with which he won races at Croft, Rufforth and Crystal Palace and the hillclimb at Prescott. In international races he finished 2nd driving with Basil van Rooyen in the 9 Hours of Kyalami behind Jacky Ickx and David Hobbs in their Mirage M1 Ford. He retired in the Grand Prix d'Autriche at Zeltweg driving a Porsche 910 with Bill Bradley and also raced a Porsche 910 in the Rhodesian Grand Prix at Bulawayo, finishing third.
A.G. Dean Racing Ltd campaigned a pair of ex-works Lotus Cortinas in the British Saloon Car Championship, one for Brian Robinson, the other for Tony. He had a number of good class finishes but the season was dominated by Frank Gardner in the Alan Mann Racing Mk 2 Lotus Cortina. Robinson finished the championship in a very respectable third place.
He took another class win in the 1000 Kilometre race at Spa with Bill Bradley in the Porsche 910 in 1969 as well as finishing 3rd in the Six Hours of Vila Real. In the ADAC 1000 kilometres at the Nürburgring they were 12th overall and 4th in class. A.G. Dean Racing team then acquired an ex-works 3-litre Porsche 908/02 (014). At the Watkins Glen 6 Hour race he was going to drive the Porsche with Vic Elford and Richard Attwood but chose not to drive. Elford and Atwood brought the car home in second place.
He raced in a non-championship F1 race that year, the IV Gran Premio de Madrid at Jarama. The race was held as a test in order to be able to hold a full F1 Championship Grand Prix the following year. Tony drove a BRM P261 V12 Special and qualified second behind Peter Gethin’s McLaren M10A-Chevrolet. He finished second behind Keith Holland in a Lola T142 Chevrolet F5000.
Tony raced in the USA in 1970 contesting the Can-Am Challenge Cup. Dean transported his Porsche 908/02 in a converted English bus. At the first round, the Labatt's Blue Trophy at Mosport Park he finished a very respectable 4th behind Dan Gurney, Jackie Oliver and Denny Hulme. He finished fourth again in round six at Road America and then at the next round in August, he won the inaugural race at Road Atlanta, where the public were admitted, against a strong field that included Denny Hulme, Vic Elford, Peter Revson and Peter Gethin. In other races that year he finished 3rd in the 1000 km of Buenos Aires with Eduardo Copello.
In 1971 A.G. Dean Racing bought a McLaren M8D. The car was driven in the opening rounds by Chuck Parsons and David Hobbs but Dean was due to drive in at Mid-Ohio. However a crash in practice spelled the end of his weekend. He brought out his aging Porsche for the round at Riverside coming home the last car running, seven laps down on the winner, Denny Hulme.
He competed in two Can-Am rounds in 1972 with the Porsche and took 4th place overall with Bobby Brown in the Six Hours of Watkins Glen, a round of the World Sportscar Championship behind the Ferraris of Jacky Ickx/Mario Andretti and Tim Schenken/Ronnie Peterson and the Mirage M6 Cosworth of Carlos Pace/Derek Bell. He ran the McLaren M8D in two of the Interserie races for Eris Tondelli and drove the old Porsche in the round at Silverstone.
Back in UK, Tony Dean campaigned a Formula 1 McLaren M14 and a 5-litre McLaren M7A/2 - Chevrolet, both in F5000 spec. Competing in the Rothmans F5000 Championship he retired or failed to qualify in nine of the thirteen rounds. He best finish was a fourth at Brands Hatch on 12th April and a seventh in the Daily Express BRDC International Trophy.
In 1973 he entered a Chevron-Chevrolet B24 (72-02) in the non-championship F1 Race of Champions at Brands Hatch and the BRDC International Trophy at Silverstone and finished the year as runner-up to Teddy Pilette in the European Formula 5000 Championship.
He was back at the Race of Champions in 1974 but crashed the Chevron on lap 38 of 40.
A true privateer, Tony always knew how to make money from the promoters and races, one of the reason for entering Can-Am. That, along with a little sponsorship here and there, his used car businesses in Castleford and Kieghley plus selling the occasional helicopter, kept his team running.
He was once convicted for evading duty on cigars which he smuggled into the UK from the US. Allegedly Dean's partner in this venture was Bobby Brown who formed Anglo-American Racing with him. Brown never returned to the UK to face charges. There are various tales relating to how the cigars were smuggled. Apparently he had a spare car called the KEC Special (King Edward Cigar) which was packed with cigars.
He tackled four rounds of the Aurora F1 Series in 1980 with a Chevron-Hart B42 with limited success.
Tony Dean died on 17 January 2008 after a long and brave fight against illness, he was 75 year-old.
His son, Richard Dean, is also a racing driver. They both shared the same passion for Motorsport. His father introduced him to the sport and he has gone on to make a profession from driving and now the business side.
Richard said, "My Dad went to great lengths to race, sometimes greater lengths than most would have gone to. I am very proud of his 'pioneering'. He made it to the grid in most categories and in some fantastic cars against some of the very best drivers in history, all this with no family money was quite an achievement."
Thanks to Richard Dean for checking the information and for the picture of Tony.