Page last updated at 13:59 GMT, Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Online auction for Pryce memorial

Tom Pryce
Tom Pryce competed at the highest level

An auction has begun to raise funds for a memorial to the only Welsh driver to win a Formula One (F1) race.

Tom Pryce, 27, of Ruthin, Denbighshire, was in his third full year of Grand Prix racing when he was killed in South Africa in 1977.

F1 fans can bid for a rare hospitality package at each of the nine European grand prix via a dedicated website.

The auction, organised by Welsh businessman David Richards, is expected to raise "tens of thousands of pounds".

Mr Richards is chairman of Aston Martin and motorsport firm Prodrive, which is overseeing the auction, and he once co-drove a rally car with Pryce during the 1970s.

He is the highest profile member of the fundraising committee which aims to erect a permanent memorial to the late racer in Ruthin town centre.

Tom Pryce was the greatest Welshman ever to get behind the wheel of a Formula One car
Ben Sayer of Prodrive

Ben Sayer of Prodrive explained: "The memorial campaign has been going on for a couple of years now, and all the designs for the memorial have been done and a location has been found within Ruthin town centre.

"The issue now is raising the money, and David Richards was brought on board to make it happen.

"He spoke to (F1 boss) Bernie Ecclestone, and to the nine Formula One teams, and they all agreed to help, so we have put together this online auction."

For nine consecutive weeks, fans can choose their favourite European Grand Prix and bid for a pair of exclusive paddock passes, including team hospitality, normally reserved for sponsors and VIP guests.

New Aston Martin non-executive chairman David Richards
David Richards also has roots in Ruthin

The first auction, for the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona in May, began on Monday 9 February and is due to close on Friday 13 February. After 24 hours the leading bid was standing at 1,450.

Mr Sayer said the total amount of money raised from the nine auctions was expected to be "in the tens of thousands of pounds".

He said: "It's difficult to put a figure on it but we think each pair of passes will raise several thousand pounds. You can't just go out and buy these packages.

"We need to raise a significant amount of money for the memorial and we hope we can hit the target in one go and make the memorial happen later this year.

"Tom Pryce was the greatest Welshman ever to get behind the wheel of a Formula One car."

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