This site wouldn’t be complete without mention of my helmet. There’s a very simple reason for this: I’ve always worn it in memory of the Welsh Formula 1 drive Tom Pryce who was killed when racing at Kyalami in South Africa in 1977.
Actually, my father used the racing colours before me when he competed in kart and Formula Ford events in the 1980s.
It seemed only right to continue the tradition, although over time a number of slight variations have been introduced to the design, with the traditional five black lines becoming points and the Swiss and Greek national flags being added to the lower part.
But let’s go back a while. What’s the story behind Tom Pryce’s helmet?
The reason for design was as straightforward as it was significant: it’s said that at the time when young Tom was racing karts, his dad had trouble recognising him from a distance. In fact, the majority of drivers at that time used all-white helmets.
His father had the idea of taking a roll of black tape and sticking five stripes on the front of the helmet and the job was done. Tom could easily be picked out in the middle of the pack. Simple isn’t it?
But let’s go back to the driver. In the 1970s, Tom Pryce was considered to be one of the greatest talents British motor racing had ever produced.
He was born on the 11th of June 1949 and began racing Formula Fords in 1970. His career soon took off: he moved into Formula 3 in 1972, raced for the then very young Ron Dennis in Formula 2 and made his Formula 1 debut in 1974 with Token before moving that same year to Shadow, with which he won the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch. Even though this was his only win at the wheel of a Formula 1 car, it was for that period at the wheel of the beautiful Shadow that many enthusiasts still remember him today.
Tom Pryce very often managed to wring more than could be hoped from the Shadow, fighting tooth and nail to challenge those who in that decade were writing the history of Formula 1, in particular Ferrari, McLaren, Lotus and Tyrrell.
Tom died at Kyalami on the 5th of March 1977 at the age of 27. He was the victim of one of the most unusual and terrible accidents ever to occur in Formula 1. He was powerless to avoid striking a marshal who was crossing the track to deal with another car that was in flames. The extinguisher he was carrying with him hit Pryce’s helmet and he was killed instantly. The car continued blindly on its way before piling into the barriers at the end of the straight.
In this section, as well remembering Tom Pryce, I would like to show you a number of versions of the helmet design I’ve used over the years. Among these, special mention has to be made of the one I wore in Formula Azzurra at Monza in 2009 (or at least what remains of it…).
The marks you can see were caused by the stones thrown up by the cars ahead of me.
STILO 2011 EDITION (right side)
STILO 2011 EDITION