Saturday, May 12, 2007

Down Below

The 1950s saw the final flourish of that type of "gentleman" driver who had dominated the British motor sport scene in the pre-war years. Newer types, the garagistes and arguably in the case of Moss and Hawthorn that distinctly modern phenomenon - the pushy dad, were supplanting the toffs.

Two of the old-school were to be found just across the Radnorshire border amongst the hop-pickers of Herefordshire, although neither Grand Prix career could be described as distinguished. Peter Walker, a gentleman farmer of Shobdon Court, had a good deal of success in sports cars though, winning Le Mans with Peter Whitehead in 1951 and taking second place in 1953, when he partnered Moss. John Riseley-Prichard of Almeley competed in the 1954 British Grand Prix in his Connaught, although a career highlight was surely a works Aston outing in the 1955 Le Mans race, partnering Tony Brooks.

With their motor racing careers behind them both men's lives seem to have taken a downward, perhaps even a symbolic, course. It is reported that Walker eventually ended-up as an alcoholic down-out on the streets of London while Riseley-Prichard, a Lloyd's underwriter, was one of the original partners in the Ann Summers sex shop before it was sold-on to its present owners. It is further reported that Prichard became involved in child pornography, dying of AIDS in Thailand, hotly pursued by both the police and the British tabloids.

No comments: