Pat Moss-Carlsson Tribute
Pat Moss was five times European Ladies Rally champion, won eight Coupe des Dames on the Monte Carlo Rally alone but more importantly for her own satisfaction was a top ten overall contender for many of her twenty year international rallying career.
Surely the jewel in her crown was the spectacular 1960 Leige-Sophia-Liege outright win in the Big Healey, the world's toughest rally at that time, in essence nothing less than a seventy two hour non-stop road race across Europe and back. Not to mention her bagging the first ever Mini Cooper international outright rally win on the 1962 Tulip.
In an era of male dominance when female sporting competitors tended to be patronisingly regarded as, 'the ladies, god bless em', Pat Moss broke down the doors. At first as a top international competitor in show jumping, the winnings from her equestrian success paid for her TR2 to start on a new sporting career in rallying.
Within a year she was to be seen rallying at the wheel of works MGs and Austins. Pat Moss's first works Healey 100/6 outings came in 1958 but her greatest victory at the wheel of what was arguably 'the' rally car of it's era came in that 1960 Liege capping the second overall she had taken just weeks earlier on the Coupe des Alpes.
Stuart Turner, a former BMC competitions Dept manager of the period reckoned that there were only ever two rally drivers who could really 'wring the neck' of a Big Healey, Timo Makkinen and Pat Moss.
We tend to think of Michele Mouton and the Audi Quattro as the greatest female driver/rally car pairing but Michele's early rally performances probably made rally manager's of that time remember just how formidable Pat Moss and the Big Healey had been only a decade earlier.
Certainly they are both right up there amongst the greats of their particular times but Pat Moss had paved the way for sexual equality in professional motorsport. Fittingly that Big Healey, URX 767 will be displayed at Race Retro along with the Alpine A110 that Pat drove in the 1972 RAC rally.
And just to underline the fact that professional rally wasn't always the serious business of current day WRC. Pat would drive anything if it sounded fun, so when Berkeley dealer Ian Mantle asked her to drive a 328cc Berkeley in the 1958 Liège-Brescia-Liège rally for cars up to 500cc, she jumped at the chance. The Berkeleys – a works-supported entry of six cars including BBC commentator Robin Richards – led as far as Slovenia, but slow climbing in summer heat found their weakness and Pat ended up being towed back to Italy by another Berkeley. "But it was fun," recalled Pat. "Before the rally they said to me, 'It will seize; when it does, get out, light a cigarette, have that and then get back in' – they were right."
Yes that tiny Berkeley Sports will also join URX 767 and the Alpine on the Pat Moss Tribute feature stand at Race Retro 2009 as a tribute to one of our rallying greats.