New book on tragic motor racing driver Tom Pryce will help fund memorial to him in Denbigh

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A new book about a Welsh motor racing driver tragically killed in his prime is set to help fund a permanent memorial to him in his home town.

Tom Pryce went from being a tractor mechanic to a potential Formula 1 world champion in just four years.

But the 27-year-old, known to his friends by his second name of Maldwyn, died at the South African Grand Prix in March 1977.

Now some of the best known names in motorsport have contributed stories to the book, 'Tom Pryce - Memories of a Welsh Star by Those Who Knew Him'.

Authors Darren Banks and Kevin Guthrie have pledged to donate the proceeds from sales of the book to create a permanent memorial in Tom's home town of Denbigh.

Nearly £3,500 has been raised so far, with a final target of £50,000.

Tom Pryce was tipped as a future Formula 1 world champion before his life was tragically cut short. Credit: PA Images

The foreword to the book has been written by Tom's widow, Nella.

She said: "I think he's become a sort of James Dean of motor racing. He was handsome, incredibly talented and destined for great success.

"To me, he will always be that fun, caring, handsome young man with a terrific sense of humour and that great smile; the man I fell in love with and married, who also just happened to become a world-famous Grand Prix driver.

"My hope is that this book will keep his memory alive, and in doing so, continue to inspire and encourage others to reach for, and achieve, their own personal goals."

Tom with his wife Nella, who describes her late husband as 'the James Dean of motor racing'. Credit: Kevin Guthrie

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 remains the only Welshman to have won a Formula 1 race - the non-championship 1975 Race of Champions at Brands Hatch - 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 Grand Prix.

John Watson, who raced against Tom in the 1970s, said: "Tom was a very fine driver, who unquestionably had the raw talent and skill to take him down the road to success.

"Where Tom might have differed from some other hard-nosed competitors was that he was a gentle man. He wasn't aggressive and self-promoting.

"He promoted himself on the race track and that was his calling card."

Trefor Williams was Tom's lifelong friend and best man. Credit: Ceidiog

The book also includes a heartfelt contribution from lifelong friend Trefor Williams, a retired journalist.

Trefor, who was Tom and Nella's best man at their wedding in 1975, said it was a joy to read the book as it rekindled old memories.

He said: "I've been reading it a little at a time, dipping into it a few pages in one session to better savour each of the anecdotes. I can picture Mald in my head as I read it.

"He was such a down-to-earth character. Even as he became increasingly successful on the racing circuit, he never forgot his roots; always kept in touch.

"It really shines a light on what a modest, fun-loving character he was - a devoted friend, always eager to catch-up. We were great pals. There was a bunch of us, all racing fans, who had such good times together."

Tom during his last race weekend at Kyalami. Credit: Kevin Guthrie

Trefor was pleased to be asked to contribute his own anecdotes to the 168-pages hardback volume.

He added: "One of the memories I include in the book is when Tom kneeled down in prayer during the church service at his wedding and the price sticker for the shoes was still on the soles.

"He was a no-frills, no airs and graces sort of character and all the stories from people who contributed to the book reflect this.

"Among my favourite memories are as a bunch of friends going to race tracks like Brands Hatch or Oulton Park. We went to Oulton Park once with Tom driving and three of us hiding in the boot so we wouldn't have to pay to get in."

Those who knew Tom say he was incredibly talented but never forgot his roots. Credit: Kevin Guthrie

Dave Jones, a member of the fundraising committee, met Tom in the late 1960s and became an avid follower of his racing career.

He now owns one of Tom's first cars - his beloved MGB GT.

Tom's parents handed it over to Dave as they knew he would treasure it and keep it in good condition.

Dave said: "We are hugely grateful to the authors for donating proceeds from their book to this great cause.

"They have worked so hard on it and we hope it will continue to help provide a significant boost to our fundraising appeal.

"Not only did Tom achieve his goal but it only took him just under four years from being a tractor mechanic to becoming one of the top Formula 1 drivers of the world.

"Tom set an example for others to follow, and showed that no matter what or where their starting point in life people can still have dreams and work to achieve them."