The 1977 South African Grand Prix (officially the XXIII South African Grand Prix) was the third race of the 1977 Formula One Season. It was held on March 5, 1977 at the Kyalami Circuit in South Africa.
This would also be Brazilian Carlos Pace's final race as he would be killed in an aircraft accident just days after the race.
The full entry list for the 1977 South African Grand Prix is outlined below:
|2||8||Carlos Pace||Brabham-Alfa Romeo|
|5||20||Jody Scheckter||Wolf-Ford Cosworth|
|9||28||Emerson Fittipaldi||Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth|
|11||7||John Watson||Brabham-Alfa Romeo|
|15||16||Tom Pryce||Shadow-Ford Cosworth|
|16||22||Clay Regazzoni||Ensign-Ford Cosworth|
|17||9||Alex Ribeiro||March-Ford Cosworth|
|18||10||Hans Joachim Stuck||March-Ford Cosworth|
|20||17||Renzo Zorzi||Shadow-Ford Cosworth|
|21||33||Boy Hayje||March-Ford Cosworth|
|23||30||Brett Lunger||March-Ford Cosworth|
On lap 22, Renzo Zorzi dropped out of the race because of an engine failure. Fire marshal, Fredrik Jansen van Vuuren and racing driver Tom Pryce were killed. Jacques Laffite was also taken out of the race as a result of Pryce's death.
However, the race continued and Lauda managed to win his first race since his accident in the 1976 German Grand Prix. He first said that this was the greatest victory of his career, but was later told on the podium that Pryce had been killed. He then stated "...there was no joy after that..."
- See Also Tom Pryce
On lap 22, the Shadow car driver by Renzo Zorzi suffered engine failure and pulled to the side of the track. Soon after pulling off of the track, the engine caught fire. Although struggling to disconnect oxygen hoses, Zorzi managed to escape from the car.
To extinguish the fire, fire marshals William (25) and Frederik Jansen van Vuuren (19) began to cross the track. As they began to cross, drivers Hans-Joachim Stuck and Tom Pryce rounded the turn. Stuck was able to narrowly avoid the first marshal, but Pryce was tucked in behind Stuck and was unable to see. Having no reaction time, Pryce stuck the second marshal, killing him on impact. The injuries were so severe that the race director was unable to identify the body. He then summoned all marshals and was able to ID the body by seeing which marshal was not among them. The marshal was Van Vuuren.
The 40 pound fire extinguisher that Van Vuuren had been carrying smashed into Pryce's helmet, nearly decapitating him. Pryce was killed on impact. There was so much force that the fire extinguisher was thrown over the grandstands, where it hit a car in the parking lot.
Because of the speed Pryce was going, his car coasted down the straight at speeds of about 270km/h. The car came to a rest after striking Jacques Laffite's car in the first turn, sending both cars into the barrier. Pryce was already dead before he crashing it the first turn.
"I can remember quite vividly [Pryce's] teammate's car had already pulled off to the side of the track and it had started a small fire. Then the next thing I can remember is seeing Tom's car coming down the straight. I can almost remember now a momentary lift of the throttle much earlier than you would have expected and I looked and I saw something fly up from the car, which tragically turned out to be the marshal." - Trevor Foster (Tyrrell mechanic)
"The tragedy itself – the sheer randomness of it – is so hard to take and still is. You tend to focus your anger on someone and for a long time it would be focused on a 19-year-old kid, called Jansen van Vuuren, who ran across the track." - David Tremayne (motor sports journalist)
This accident was added into the documentary, The Quick and the Dead when it was re-released in 1978.
Standings After RaceEdit
Only the top 5 drivers are displayed.
Only the top 5 constructors are displayed.
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