Tom Pryce: Gone but not forgotten

Formula One World Championship

Tom Pryce died on the 5 March 1977. At the time he was considered one of the up and coming British drivers but a horrific accident during the South African Grand Prix, at Kyalami, robbed the sport of a star in the making.

A constant front runner in lower formulae Pryce made his grand prix debut in 1974 in Belgium. He went on to win the Brands Hatch Race of Champions, a non-championship Formula 1 race.

Pryce is the only Welsh driver to have won an F1 race and is also the only Welshman to lead a Formula 1 World Championship Grand Prix: two laps of the 1975 British Grand Prix.

Pryce started his career in Formula 1 with the small Token team, making his only start for them at the 1974 Belgian Grand Prix.

Shortly after an impressive performance at the Formula 3 support race for the 1974 Monaco Grand Prix, Pryce joined the Shadow F1 team and scored his first points in Germany in only his fourth race – at a time when only the top six were awarded points.

Out of his 42 F1 races Pryce scored two podium finishes, his first in Austria in 1975 and the second in Brazil a year later. Pryce was considered by his team as a great wet weather driver.

During the practice session for the 1977 South African GP, run in wet conditions which he relished, Pryce was faster than everyone, including world champion drivers Niki Lauda and James Hunt.

Pryce’s third full season at Shadow was cut short by his fatal accident at the 1977 South African Grand Prix, where he collided at high speed with safety marshal Frederik Jansen Van Vuuren who ran across the main straight to attend to a burning car.

Unsighted and at full speed the Shadow hit Van Vuuren who virtually disintegrated upon impact, and the fire extinguisher he was carrying struck Pryce’s helmet. Both driver and marshal were killed instantly.

A memorial to Pryce was unveiled on 11 June 2009, on Clwyd Street in Ruthin, Wales. (Wikipedia)

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