My pal, Sid Priddle, a PR practitioner par excellence, freely admits that he owes much of his early career to the two men who died in recent weeks, publicist and marketing guru Rod Campbell and the legendary Grand Prix driver, Sir Stirling Moss.
I wrote tributes to both in my Toronto Star Wheels column after they passed: Here are links.
Rod Campbell: Please click here
Sir Stirling Moss: Please click here
So how did those two gentlemen come to play such a significant role in the life of Priddle, a man who once organized a two-car parade (which is a story for another time).
It was the early 1960s. Campbell was working in Montreal, selling ads for radio station CFOX on the West Island, and had volunteered to handle publicity for the newly opened road-racing circuit in the Laurentians north of Montreal, Le Circuit-Mont Tremblant.
Being the man he was, he was not happy to discover that the Montreal Star had assigned a freelancer instead of a staff reporter to cover the races at the new track. So he went to see the sports editor of the Star and convinced him that he should assign someone to the beat.
“I was low man on the totem pole,” said Priddle. “I couldn’t even drive a car. The sports editor called me in and said, ‘Congratulations, Priddle. You’re the new motorsport reporter.’ ”
Campbell was a dynamo who saw an opportunity everywhere he looked.
“Rod also hired me to do a Sunday morning radio roundup show on curling in Quebec,” Priddle recalled. “It was the first curling radio show anywhere but Rod sold sponsorship for it.”
It took Sir Stirling and his then-former wife, Katie Molson, a Canadian, to solidify Priddle’s position on the motorsport beat.
Recalled Priddle: “Moss mentioned to Katie Molson that the story I wrote after the first Player’s 200 was very well done for a kid, ‘who said he knew nothing about motorsport.’ Katie mentioned it to the publisher of the Star, J.W. McConnell (they traveled in the same circles).
“McConnell then ordered the sports department that I was to cover all motorsport, not just the races at Le Circuit, and the department was to recognize motorsport as a professional sport from then on.
“And that’s what happened. Those two acts of kindness helped to launch me on a career in motorsport journalism and, later, in public relations.”