Monday, 28 December 2015

DEATH of a Race Car Driver by Flying Fire Extinguisher - Tom Pryce, SOUTH AFRICA



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

Wales has never had the pleasure of a Grand Prix success story - unlike the other British nations. England can boast a record eight world champions, including the last two; Scotland has two in triple-champion Jackie Stewart and the brilliant Jim Clark; whilst Northern Ireland can lay claim to two championship runners-up in Eddie Irvine and John Watson. Wales has produced just three Formula One drivers, none of whom managed a race win. However one of them was a brilliantly talented racer, and would surely have gone on to great success had his life not been cut tragically short at the South African Grand Prix of 1977.

Tom Pryce
That man was Tom Pryce born on 11 June 1949 in Ruthin, Denbighshire, to Jack and Gwyneth Pryce.
Jack had served in the Royal Air Force as a tail-gunner on a Lancaster bomber before joining the local police force. Gwyneth was a district nurse. Pryce's older brother, David, died at the age of three leaving Tom an only child for much of the time he was growing up, although his parents did foster a young girl called Sandra for a while. Pryce, known to his friends as Mald, attended Nantglyn Catholic Primary School, Denbighshire. The family later moved to Towyn, Denbighire, due to Jack's job.

Pryce took an interest in cars while driving a baker's van at the age of 10, before informing his parents that he wanted to be a racing driver. During an interview with Alan Henry in 1975, he stated that he had wanted to become a pilot, but thought he was not intelligent enough. Like many future Formula One drivers, Pryce had a childhood racing hero. In his case it was Lotus's Scottish driver Jim Clark. Pryce's mother recalled that he was very upset when Clark died at the Hockenheimring in April 1968. His father noted that "he was very upset when Jochen Rindt was killed, too". After he left school at 16, in typical pragmatic Welsh fashion, Pryce's mother insisted that he take an apprenticeship as a tractor mechanic at Llandrillo Technical College, giving him "something to fall back on", as she put it, if his career as a racing driver was unsuccessful.

In 1975 Pryce married Fenella, more commonly known as Nella, whom he met at a disco in Otford, Kent in 1973. Following the death of her husband, Nella went on to run an antiques store in Fulham, London with Janet Brise, the widow of Tony Brise, who died in a plane crash in 1975 with fellow racing driver, Graham Hill and later moved to France.


Pryce leads Niki Lauda at Brands Hatch 1974

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