Sunday, 18 September 2005 23:21
Tom Pryce (Thomas Maldwyn Pryce)
Thomas Maldwyn Pryce (June 11, 1949â€”March 5, 1977) was a Formula 1 racing driver. He was famous for winning the Brands Hatch Race of Champions in 1975, and for his shocking death in an accident during the 1977 South African Grand Prix.
Pryce was the son of a policeman and was born in Ruthin, Denbighshire, Wales. He raced Formula Ford in 1970 season, and soon moved onto Super Vee cars and Formula 3, impressing with his commitment and speed. Pryce moved onto the Super Vee formula and then into Formula 3 in 1972. After breaking his leg at the Monaco Race, he was offered a drive in F2 by Ron Dennis with Mutel Rondel Racing. This soon led to his breakthough into F1 in 1974 with Token.
His first race on May 12 for the Token team resulted in 20th Position on the grid at Spa-Francorchamps, retiring in the race with suspension failure. After being refused entry to the 1974 Monaco Grand Prix race he took part in the supporting F3 race in a March car, easily outclassing the field. This drive resulted in a move to Shadow. In 1975 he won the annual Race of Champions against many established names, faltering from pole position but working his way back up the field for the win. His best results were a third place in Austria (1975) and Brazil (1976), but many observers of the sport thought he had potential to take the championship in a more competitive car.
Pryce was killed in one of the most bizarre accidents in the history of Formula 1. A few years earlier Roger Williamson was killed during the 1973 Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort when Williamson got trapped inside his burning car and safety marshalls were slow to cross the track while the race was in progress.
At the end of lap 21 of the Grand Prix at Kyalami, South Africa, on March 5, 1977, Renzo Zorzi retired his Shadow with a split fuel pipe which had caused a small, but harmless fire. Zorzi's car was parked in a blind brow but two marshalls stationed on the opposite side of the track decided to cross to tackle the fire. At that moment, cars driven by Pryce and Hans-Joachim Stuck suddenly appeared, nearly side-by-side. Stuck's car passed behind the first marshall and ahead of the second marshall, 19 year old Jansen Van Vuuren. Pryce however could not avoid Van Vuuren, hitting him at high speed and killing the marshall instantly. The impact seemed to have only minimum influence on Pryce's car, only slightly damaging its front wing. However, the fire extinguisher Van Vuuren was carrying struck Pryce on the head, killing Pryce instantly. Pryce's car continued down the straight track, gradually slowing down and verging to the right. Jacques Laffite, who was unsure what was going on, moved alongside as the two cars approached Crowthorne, at that point Pryce's car skidded off the barriers, back on the track again, where it hit Laffite's Ligier, taking Laffite out of the race but not injuring him.
As to Van Vuuren, the injuries to his body were extremely severe. His body was split in half and dismembered. It was identified only by exclusion, after the race director gathered all of his colleagues.
(The Impact was so severe it ripped Pryce's helmet off)
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 October 2006 13:05|