The Lost Generation: The Brilliant but Tragic Lives of Rising British F1 Stars Roger Williamson, Tony Brise and Tom Pryce, by David Tremayne
Paperback, © 2006 Haynes, ISBN 9781844258390
Despite the championship success regularly enjoyed by British marques such as Lotus, McLaren and Williams, British championship-winning drivers are a rare breed in Formula 1: there have been just five in the last 35 years.
Before Nigel Mansell’s run to the 1992 title, one would have to rewind a full sixteen years to find the last British World Champion, in the form of James Hunt.
The intervening period could have been very different were Formula 1 not robbed of the lives of three likely British champions – Roger Williamson, Tony Brise and Tom Pryce – who are the subjects of David Tremayne’s outstanding book, The Lost Generation.
These three drivers never won a Grand Prix, but had they lived long enough, each probably would have. They quite possibly could have been World Champions.
Instead, this trio ranks among a host of other F1 drivers whose stars burned out before their true potential could be realised.
The three were also such popular and charismatic members of the F1 fraternity that the senselessness of their deaths simply adds to the incredible sense of mourning in The Lost Generation.
After just one World Championship start, Williamson burned to death in front of millions of television viewers at the 1973 Dutch Grand Prix. His car overturned in a high-speed crash, and despite the best efforts of David Purley – who was the only driver to stop and offer assistance – he succumbed in his car, while the race simply carried on.
Brise was also a star in the making. Snaffled up by Graham Hill after an impressive debut for Frank Williams’ team, he was bring groomed for certain stardom before he died in the plane crash in 1975, along with Hill and several members of their Embassy team.
Pryce was on the cusp of greatness – having repeatedly impressed with some sterling drives for the Shadow team – when he was killed in a freak accident at the 1977 South African Grand Prix, striking a marshal who ran across the track to put out a smoky engine failure. Hit full in the face by the marshal’s fire extinguisher, Pryce was killed instantly.
It’s easy to get caught up in the nature of their deaths, and while Tremayne deservedly emphasises the utter senselessness in the incidents surround each, his focus is far more on their achievements in life rather than the ghoulish manner of their deaths.
In all, The Lost Generation is a harrowing but poignant and fitting tribute to three largely-ignored members of the F1 fraternity whose time came up far too soon.
Using our unique ‘Chequered Flags’ rating system, we award The Lost Generation…
OUT OF A POSSIBLE FIVE.
Make sure you also check out our exclusive interview with the book’s author, veteran journalist David Tremayne, on our website.
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