Cardiff University Racing Team have unveiled 'Nella' - their fastest and lightest ever race car to compete as one of 130 entrants at the annual Formula Student event in Silverstone.
Students from all engineering disciplines are given the opportunity to design, build and race a single-seater car to compete in the worldwide student motorsport competition. As a former member and engineering student at the University I know that traditionally each year the car is given a name. So this year I was intrigued to hear the story behind why the car was named ‘Nella’ after Tom Pryce’s widow Fenella. The team told me that they had successfully contacted Fenella who was clearly touched at the proposed name for the new prototype.
Thomas Maldwyn Pryce, was the only Welshman to ever win a Formula 1 car event at the Brands Hatch Race of Champions in 1975 (see photo below). In his two and a half year career, Pryce achieved nine top-six finishes and was fast becoming noticed for his ability to control the car, particularly in wet-weather conditions. Racing alongside world champion drivers such as James Hunt and Niki Lauda, Tom Pryce looked set to have a promising F1 career.
Motorsport in the 1970s was very dangerous. Cars were extremely quick and powerful but lacked the advanced safety features that we see in todays Formula 1.
Pryce died aged just 27 years old during a fatal crash at the South African Grand Prix in 1977.
Almost forty years on, the Cardiff team will race ‘Nella’ in memory of Tom Pryce at the Silverstone Circuit in Northamptonshire. It is poignant also as it was here that Pryce won the Crusader Championships in 1970, and where he started on pole position at the British Grand Prix in 1975.
If you would like to track the teams progress then please visit their website www.cardiffracing.co.uk or follow them on Twitter @Cardiff_Racing. A 3D CAD video of how the car was built is also shown below.
© Bethany Keenan (Words and Cardiff Racing Images), Tom Pryce image courtesy of Cahier Archive