Patrick Barron “Paddy” Ho


Friday 14th April 1933

Born on this day, Patrick Barron “Paddy” Hopkirk, legendary rally driver from Northern Ireland. Alongside Henry Liddon he won the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally in a Mini Cooper S, registration number 33 EJB. He was awarded the MBE Honour in the 2016 New Year’s Honours list.

He started his winning career in professional racing and rally driving in 1955. He finished third at the 1962 Monte Carlo Rally in a Sunbeam Rapier. Alongside Henry Liddon he won the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally in a Mini Cooper S car number 37, with the registration number 33 EJB. They are the most recent all-British crew to have won the event.

Hopkirk also travelled to Australia during his career to drive for the BMC Works Team in the annual Bathurst 500 race for standard production cars at the Mount Panorama Circuit. He drove at Bathurst in a Morris Cooper S from 1965–1967, obtaining a best result of 6th outright and 3rd in class in the 1965 Armstrong 500 when paired with another great rally driver, Timo Mäkinen of Finland. In 1965, he won a Coupe d’Argent at the Alpine Rally.[1] He won the 1965 and 1967 Circuit of Ireland Rally, the 1966 and 1967 Alpine Rally, and the 1967 Rally Acropolis.

Hopkirk was elected as a life member of the British Racing Drivers’ Club in 1967, and is also president of the Historic Rally Car Register, and a patron of disability charity WheelPower.

In 1968, at the London-Sydney Marathon, Hopkirk gallantly gave up any chance of victory on the penultimate stage to rescue the Bianchi-Ogier team then in the lead, whose Citroën DS had just collided head-on with another car on a road supposedly closed to traffic. Hopkirk and his teammate Tony Nash managed to pull out occupants from both cars that were starting to burn, probably saving the life of severely wounded Lucien Bianchi in the process. The accident happened just ahead of Hopkirk’s Austin 1800. By driving back to warn onlookers and the police, Hopkirk and Nash likely also prevented another crash with any incoming participants.

That same year he finished second at the second edition of the Rally de Portugal. The following year, he finished second of the Circuit of Ireland, then 4th at the 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally with teammates Tom Nash and Neville Johnston on a Triumph 2.5 PI. In 1977, with co-driver Taylor Mike, he took part once again in a revived edition of the London-Sydney Marathon, the Singapore Airlines London to Sydney Rally, this time driving a Citroën CX 2400, taking 3rd place overall in front of another CX driven by Claude Laurent and Jean-Claude Ogier… who had been rescued by Hopkirk and Nash in 1968.

In 1982, he won the RAC Golden 50, a historical anniversary race celebrating the 50th RAC Rally, with co-driver Brian Culcheth in the Mini Cooper with which Timo Mäkinen had won the 1965 Monte Carlo Rally. In 1990, he won the Pirelli Classic Marathon with co-driver Alec Poole. In 1994, he entered the Monte Carlo Rally again, driving a current Mini Cooper, very similar to the original car, but now produced by Rover Group, whose 1275cc engine was tuned to deliver 104 bhp [2] and with a registration number almost identical to the victorious 1964 Mini (L33 EJB): thirty years after his famous win, Hopkirk and his co-pilot Ron Crellin finished the race at an incredible 60th place against much more modern and powerful machines.

In 2010, he was among the first four inductees into the Rally Hall of Fame, along with Mäkinen, Rauno Aaltonen and Erik Carlsson


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