Page last updated at 09:33 GMT, Saturday, 12 July 2008 10:33 UK

Trophy race honours tragic driver

Tom Pryce
Tom Pryce brought Wales to the international motor racing scene

Wales' late, great hope to be a Formula One champion is being remembered at a classic car weekend.

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

Many fans believed he would have become the world's best had he lived.

More than 160 classic cars are taking part in a two-day tournament in his honour at Pembrey Motor Racing Circuit in Carmarthenshire.

Pryce was in his third full year of Grand Prix racing when he was killed in March 1977. He was unable to miss a 19-year-old marshal running across the track with a fire extinguisher.

The marshal was killed instantly, as was Pryce when he was struck on the head by the fire extinguisher.

They've got the smell and everything about them - modern racing cars are very clinical - historic racing cars have far more atmosphere
Phil Davies, Pembrey Motor Racing Circuit

It ended a life which had brought Wales to the international motor racing scene.

Although he never won a Grand Prix, he had taken victory in the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch and there were high hopes he could have gone on to great things.

The Tom Pryce Trophy, funded by the Western Mail, was instituted in his memory several years ago but has not been competed for in recent seasons.

Phil Davies, circuit manager at Pembrey, said it was thought the first weekend of historic car racing at the venue offered an appropriate opportunity for the trophy race to be re-instigated.

Pembrey Motor Racing Circuit
Drivers in eight classic car categories are taking to the Pembrey circuit

Eight classes of car are lined up on the grid, with historic Formula Three drivers battling it out over two races for the trophy.

Mr Davies said: "It is fitting that the trophy should go to a Formula Three racer since that was the category in which Tom enjoyed much of his early success.

"There are classics here exactly like the cars that Tom would have been racing when he was racing in that class.

"They've got the smell and everything about them. Modern racing cars are very clinical. Historic racing cars have far more atmosphere."

Cars qualify on Saturday and race on Sunday at the venue which last month unveiled a 1m upgrade, including a new pit lane and extended viewing areas, and is used for training by two motor racing teams.

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