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Rod Campbell, Sir Stirling Moss helped launch a young man’s career

Norris McDonald
Written by Norris McDonald

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.”

A young Rod Campbell (left) interviews Canadian George Eaton (middle) and New Zealander Bruce McLaren to promote a Can-Am Series race at Le Circuit-Mont Tremblant in the 1960s.

Rod Campbell’s great friend, the late Len Coates (left) discusses racing with another Canadian, Formula One team owner Walter Wolf.

Once upon a time, young women were as much of an attraction (not really, but they were definitely eye candy) as the racing cars and drivers. Here, Rod Campbell talks with two sponsor representatives.

Walter Wolf, his son and Rod Campbell (right) walk through the paddock together at a European grand prix.

Rod Campbell was part of the Canadian International AutoShow’s 50 Years of Formula One in Canada celebration in 2017.

Stirling Moss was friends with many Canadians and spent a lot of time on this side of the Atlantic. Here he is with Bill Sadler (left), a St. Catharines race-car designer and builder, and London, Ont., car dealer and racer, Ed Leavens.

As they say, all work and no play makes . . . Here we have Ed Leavens (left) and Sir Stirling Moss (right) out for a night on the town in Las Vegas with none other than 1950s-50s sexpot Zsa Zsa Gabor.

Two giants in the twilight – Sir Stirling Moss (left) and World Champion Phil Hill share a laugh. Now, they’re both gone.

Was there ever a man who looked more like a racing driver than Stirling Moss? He had the name and the looks. A swashbuckler if you ever saw one.