Appeal for memories of tragic F1 hero Tom Pryce for new book

RM131018a Denbigh Museum Tom Price exhibition Car enthusiast Dave Jones with Tom Pryce’s helmet

An appeal has been launched for stories for a new book about tragic F1 hero Tom Pryce.

Campaigners are trying to raise £50,000 to erect a statue in memory of the race ace and to inspire children and young people in his hometown of Denbigh to reach for their dreams.

Their drive has received a major boost after authors Darren Banks and Kevin Guthrie, who both live in Fife in Scotland, announced plans for the new book about Tom.

They have pledged to donate all the proceeds, barring minimal design and printing costs, to the fund.

Fifty people have already contributed their memories of Tom, including former F1 driver and commentator John Watson, who was a Grand Prix rival of Tom’s, and his best man and oldest friend, Trefor Williams.

Tom was born at the former Trevalyn Hospital in Rossett and spent his early childhood living in the Hightown area of Wrexham and the nearby village of Brymbo.

He was tipped for the very top after swapping his first job as a tractor mechanic for a career in motorsport and a place in the Shadow Grand Prix team.

Tom won the non-championship Formula One Race of Champions at Brands Hatch in 1975 against a strong field which included world champions Emerson Fittipaldi and Jody Scheckter.

He then took pole position in the British Grand Prix that year and led the field for two laps as well as posting third place finishes in the 1975 Austrian and 1976 Brazilian Grands Prix.

But Tom, known to his friends by his second name of Maldwyn, was sadly killed at the Kyalami circuit when he was just 27 years of age.

The campaign was launched in Denbigh where he went to school at Ysgol Frongoch after his parents, a local police officer and a district nurse, settled in the village of Nantglyn.

If the fundraisers are successful, the statue will be made by the acclaimed sculptor, Nick Elphick, from Llandudno.

Darren and Kevin have previously written acclaimed biographies of racing drivers Stephen South and Jim Crawford.

Darren said, “The book will consist of a collection of memories – accompanied by many, previously unseen photos –  from the many people involved in Tom’s career in motor racing and from many childhood friends who knew him as Maldwyn before he set out to achieve his ambition to be World Champion.

“Other contributors include former members of the UOP Shadow F1 team, Tony Southgate, Trevor Foster and Alan Rees along with former mechanics, drivers and journalists.”

According to Darren and Kevin, they are still interested to hear from anyone who knew Tom, or has any anecdotes about him, to get in touch.

Kevin added: “Tom was one of F1’s hottest talents during the 1970s, until his career was cut tragically short by a freak accident during the 1977 South African Grand Prix, when a young marshal also lost his life.

“His spectacular and aggressive driving was at complete odds with his character out of the cockpit but made him a huge favourite with fans.”

Dave Jones, a member of the fundraising committee who lives in nearby St Asaph, was 14 years old when he first met Tom in 1969.

He followed his career avidly and his most prized possession, among many items of memorabilia associated with Tom’s career, is his beloved MGB GT sports car. Dave said:

“My sister, Judith, worked in the offices at the garage and went out with him. We all knew him as Maldwyn locally, but when he moved south to pursue his racing career he became known as Tom Pryce as, apparently, the race commentators found it difficult to pronounce Maldwyn.

He saved his money to attend the racing drivers’ school, Motor Racing Stables, held at Mallory Park and Brands Hatch.

The school held a series of races for pupils and the prize for winning the championship was a new Lola Formula Ford car.

There were three drivers who were in contention to win, Maldwyn being one of them. On the day of the race it rained heavily, and as Maldwyn loved driving in wet conditions, he won the race and the championship.

“I’m 100 per cent behind the book Darren and Kevin are writing. It will be a fitting tribute to undoubtedly the greatest Welsh racing driver of all time and who, if fate had been kinder, would now be remembered as quite possibly one of the all-time greats of motor racing.”

Anybody who wants to contribute their memories or anecdotes should contact Darren Banks by ringing him on  01333 310139 or  07906 041187  or emailing him at darren.m.banks81@gmail.com while Kevin Guthrie’s email address is jimcrawfordbio@yahoo.co.uk For more information go to www.tompryce.co.uk or www.Facebook.com/TomPryceF1 and to make a contribution to the appeal fund go to https://www.gofundme.com/tom-pryce-appeal

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