Tributes to Dave Prior

Dave Prior passed away at the age of 68 on 14th April 2010 after a short battle with cancer.

Dave's daughter Lesley writes: "Dave was the driving force behind Roz Prior's drag racing success, also managing son Stuart and daughter Lesley in the Priors' Vega Funny Car. Dave's latter years have been at a lesser speed, up and down Englands canals in his narrowboat, which he thoroughly enjoyed. His passing will be a tremendous loss to everyone who knew him."

We have received the following tributes to Dave. To send your own tribute, E-Mail

The most recently-received tributes are at the top of the page.

Dave Prior, what's left to say? Dave gave me the chance to be involved in a sport where I had much enthusiasm but lacked in talent (unless polishing a Funny Car body is a talent) but Dave was like that. He gave anyone with a love for racing a chance. The years involved with that team and Betsy were some of the best of my life and I have to ask Tich, Lesley and Brett, is there really a better way to finish a Sunday afternoon than with a jubilee pancake in a Little Chef on the way back from Long Marston? I think not, rest assured, none of us will forget the old fella. Love to all.

-- The Conman

I first met Dave when he joined Tyresales Southern Ltd. At the Wallington branch, I was transport manager and stock controller at the time and when ever I visited the branch on business there always seemed to be more work going on with the dragster than with customers' cars. I got on with Dave and Dennis very well and was persuaded to get involved in drag racing with a lot of help from them. Dave was truly larger than life and a very likeable chap always had time for people and ready to help if he could. The 70s and 80s were the golden age of drag racing, made so by people like Dave. Condolences to the Prior family.

-- Alan Bathurst

I think I have told this story so many times, but I want to take your mind back to a Custom Car Show in Leeds, Queens Hall, in 1980.

As I drove up the M1 in my Transit with my DJ sound system on board, the snow was following me and eventually overtook me just as I arrived on site. Being such a clever motor mechanic, I had not bothered to put anti-freeze in the engine so I was allowed to keep the van inside the hall to protect it. That must have looked good as an exhibit!

That winter, not only the snow kept the population away from the show, but also the prominence of a certain Yorkshire Ripper. In fact, the only people who always seemed to be in the show at all times were the guys and girls from the Santa Pod stand - enter Dave Prior.

We all got on so well that Dave, who was organising a new show at Milton Keynes, asked me if I could provide the sound system at that event also. So in February of 1981, off I went to my first Dragster and Custom Car Show for Santa Pod.

Now you have to bear in mind that I knew zilch about drag racing and there were many people and their vehicles at that show who would later become such a big part of my life. At one side of the stage was Nobby's Houndog in Fuel Altered guise, the other the Rain City Warrior which was to be the ride of Chris Filsell and of course 'Wild' Bill Sherratt. Over to the right was a certain Al's Gasser, at the end of the hall, Rod Pallant's Top Fuel Bike. Those are just a few of the machines and names I can remember. The show was also the first time I met people such as Roy and Bob Phelps, Eileen Cattley, Bootsie and Lesley Wright (then Digby).

The person who helped me on the stage - Dave's son, a very young Stuart Prior.

Ah great memories! From that I was asked to start work at Santa Pod Raceway as a trainee commentator. I liked it so much that...I didn't want to buy the company! But I stayed, on and off, for the last thirty years.

At one of the last events I did at the Pod, Dave came along as a VIP so I was able to say "If you want to blame anyone for me working at the track - blame that man, Dave Prior". Dave smiled and waved from the VIP balcony.

So Dave, wherever you are, thanks mate - Rest in Peace.

-- John Price

Our very sincere condolences to Mark, Lesley, Stuart and their families. We first met Dave at a Silverstone NDRC meet back in the year ? We then found that we had some mutual acquaintances at Tyresales, Surrey! We got involved with the team, Helen ran Roz's fan club for a while, whilst I helped Dave with the car. We have many happy memories of our trips around the NDRC meets, Huddersfield, Aintree etc. as well as to the Pod, and not forgetting the late nights in prepping the car. Dave always ensured that the food, tea/coffee/Coca Cola and cigarettes were on hand and he was always so generous. We travelled together to numerous meets, both here and in Europe, including some car and bike shows. Happy times and memories. We will always remember Dave and our times together.

-- Helen and Ian Taylor

Dave was a pioneer in British drag racing, a legend. RIP Dave. All my best to the family, Roz, Lesley, Stuart.

-- Trevor Flemons

Dave Prior took me onto his Team in the eighties when I was just a young mechanic, he taught me a huge amount both about Top Fuel and also about business. I crewed for Dave and took a lot of cars to Europe for him, where he again taught me about the business side of racing and shows and he was as sharp as a tack. I would not be the businessman I am today if it were not for Dave! Dave was a larger than life man and nobody who ever met him could call him ordinary, he had a huge heart and was one of the truly great drag racers... My deepest condolences to Lesley, Tich, Roz, Stuart and the rest of the family. I will never forget Dave, a big man in a small world.

-- Brett Ainley

It is a measure of Dave's presence that despite not having seen him for many years, I have fond memories of time spent with this generous and amusing man when he was running Hellcat with Dennis Acott (and I have a few good stories that perhaps I shall relate on some other happier occasion).Thank you Dave for your contribution to so many lives. My thoughts are with your family.

-- Martyn Babb

So sorry to hear the news. My condolences to all the family.

-- Liz Burn

How sad. I doubt that I would have got involved in drag racing without Dave Prior, so you could say it was all his fault! Dave, along with Dennis Acott worked in a tyre shop in Wallington, just round the corner from my house. I was sixteen years old and they had the Hellkat dragster in the window of the shop. I was smitten. Dave put my dad in touch with a guy selling the old Pulsation frame, which we bought, and with Dave (and Dennis') help went drag racing. That was thirty seven years ago! Thank you Dave, for introducing me to a habit that I still can't kick. I hadn't crossed paths with Dave for some years, but when we did meet he always had time for a chat and a chuckle. A truly nice bloke.

-- Dave Gibbons

Sad news indeed. Dave and Roz added a bit more sparkle to drag racing in the early years. RIP Dave.

-- Ken Robbins

I first met Dave when he brought Bruce Brown's Age Machine (which I used to crew for). He was a good guy. Dave will be missed but not forgotten. RIP Dave.

-- Geoff Stilwell

Dave will be missed, my memories of him and Roz in the pits will never be forgotten and will their professionalism on the track. Thanks for the memories.

-- Mike Kason

It's been quite a few years since I last met Dave, he was one of the many drag racing characters with generally a good smile whenever you met. He will be missed as will his contributions to the sport in his day. My thoughts are with his family, Stuart and Lesley both of whom I remember taking their turn in the hot seat.

-- Roger Gorringe

So sorry to hear of Dave's passing. We were hoping to get him to Santa Pod for a last visit as I know he wanted to do. But it looks like the big C has denied him that chance. Never the less, like all pioneers of our sport, Dave will be missed, but not forgotten.

-- Stu Bradbury

I first met Dave when he joined the Kelly Springfield Tyre Company as a sales representative in the early 1970s. He soon became interested in drag racing starting with a Jaguar engined dragster that he campaigned with Dennis Acott. His first big move was purchasing Age Machine from Bruce Brown that resulted in Roz getting in the driving seat and this lead to their career in Top Fuel during the late 1970s and through the early 1980s. Dave later got his son Stuart in the driving seat and his daughter Lesley, but he also played an important role organising European show tours that helped hard strapped racers during the 1980s' recession. He will be remembered by many who were involved during those two decades. My thoughts are with his family.

-- Brian Taylor

Very sad to hear the news of Dave's passing and my thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time. I never knew him personally but I have fond memories of seeing the Vega at Long Marston as it was then, when I was a lad. It was seeing this car that got me in to the sport and gave me a love for the Fuel classes. RIP and thank you!

-- Dan Welberry

RIP Dave, like others before you will not be forgotten.

-- Syd McDonald

I've known Dave since the 1970s and only recently he got in touch via Facebook. I could see by his profile picture he was leading a more placid and slower pace of life to those hectic drag racing days. He was a great character, always had time for a chat. He will be sadly missed by everyone that knew him. My condolences to his family.

-- Peter Crane

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