Tom Pryce: The story of Wales’ recognised Formula One Driver

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Dafydd Jones January 20, 2021

Becoming the only Welsh driver to have won a Formula One race is no mean feat.

But that’s exactly what was achieved by the late Tom Pryce, who won the Brands Hatch Race of Champions, a non-championship race in 1975.

Despite his tragic death just two years later, Pryce created a legacy of being Wales’ only recognised Formula One driver.

Pryce started his career in Formula One with British team Token, but only featured in the 1974 Belgian Grand Prix, before his move to the Shadow team, where he had his first real taste of success.

The Ruthin-born driver scored his first points in just his fourth race for the team and went on to claim two podium finishes in Austria and Brazil.

During his four seasons with Shadow between 1974 and 1977, Pryce was dubbed to be a future World Champion, making the most of an often unreliable car.

It was an exciting time for Pryce and his fans, as the Welshman had all the potential to make his mark on the sport.

But, his progress was cut short in a tragic manner in the 1977 South African Grand Prix.

In a practice session in wet conditions, Pryce looked to be on form, recording faster laps than the likes of Niki Lauda and James Hunt, with a time of 1 minute and 31.57 seconds.

On race-day, Pryce, aged just 27, tragically collided at high speed with safety marshal Frederik Jansen van Vuuren in a crash killed both men, as Pryce’s head was hit heavily by the marshal’s fire extinguisher.

The driver was buried in St. Bartholomew’s Churchyard in Otford, Kent, although a memorial to Pryce was unveiled in 2009 in his home town of Ruthin.

Pryce’s story is a tragic one, but his legacy as Wales’ only recognised Formula One driver lives on.

 

 

  • Ruth Williams 8 months, 1 week ago

    bore da, thank you for this great blog, to a great man.
    However there are a couple of inaccuracies you might want to amend. Tom (Maldwyn) Pryce was born in Rosset, near Wrexham and raised in Nantglyn and Denbigh. He went to primary school in Denbigh and secondary school in Abergele.
    Tge confusion with Ruthin is that his parents moved there later…[Read more]

  • Simon Chandler 8 months, 1 week ago

    Legend