Tom Pryce

In the 1970s Britain went through a generation of racing drivers, contemporaries of James Hunt, who for one reason or another did not survive in Formula 1. The group consisted of Tony Brise, Roger Williamson, David Purley and Tom Pryce. Williamson and Pryce were killed racing; Brise was killed when Graham Hill, his team boss, crashed his plane returning to Britain from a test; and Purley suffered such serious injuries in a crash at Silverstone that he was never able to race as well as he had before the accident.

Born in Ruthin in what used to be called Denbighsire in North Wales, Pryce was the son of a policeman. He won a Formula Ford car in a national competition in 1970 but then moved on to Super Vee before trying Formula 3 in 1972. His season ended early with a broken leg after a crash at Monaco but in 1973 he moved to Formula 2 with Ron Dennis's Motul Rondel Racing. His best result came at the Norisring where he finished second behind his team mate Tim Schenken.

For 1974 Pryce was asked to drive for the Token F1 team, which had originally been planned as Dennis's first F1 team with Motul backing. The money failed to materialise and the project was taken over by businessmen Tony Vlassopoulo and Ken Grob. The car appeared at the Belgian GP in the hands of Pryce and qualified 20th but retired with suspension trouble. Pryce was refused an entry at Monaco and so switched to the Formula 3 race with Ippocampos Racing's March 743. He won the race and this brought him to the attention of the Shadow F1 team for whom he scored points at the German GP that summer. In 1975 he was third in Austria, fourth in Germany, sixth three times and qualified on pole for the British Grand Prix. Thus he ended the year as 10th in the World Championship. That year he also won the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch. He stayed with Shadow in 1976, getting a third place in Brazil and a couple of fourth places.

Early in 1977 he was killed at Kyalami in a most bizarre accident when he was unable to avoid a fire marshal who was running across the track to attend to another car. The impact killed the marshal but the fire extinguisher he was carrying hit Pryce on the head. He was killed instantly but the car went on down the main straight and crashed into Jacques Laffite's Ligier at the first corner. Laffite was not hurt.